Centre's Katchatheevu largesse haunts DMK

Handing over the island to Lanka has hurt TN fishermen

DMK president M Karunanidhi on Wednesday refuted Chief Minister J Jayalalitha’s allegations that it was during the DMK regime in the early 70s that the island of Katchatheevu off Rameshwaram was “offered on a golden platter to Sri Lanka,” a gesture which acted against the interests of the coastal fishermen in Tamil Nadu.

The DMK government, under his leadership in 1974, had opposed the Centre’s decision, Karunanidhi said in a letter to DMK cadres on Wednesday evening, in response to the charges.

“Under the firm insistence of our DMK government, certain key clauses were incorporated in the agreement then (ceding Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister), to protect the traditional fishing rights of our Tamil Nadu fishermen near Katchatheevu, the right of pilgrimage to that island and drying fishing nets there,” Karunanidhi claimed.

“I even wrote a letter to the then prime minister (Indira Gandhi) adducing all documents to show that Katchatheevu was an integral part of India,” asserted Karunanidhi.

However, for some strange reasons, under the “second agreement” signed during the Emergency (after the DMK government was dismissed), those protective clauses, which were beneficial to our fishermen, were deleted, Karunanidhi said.

“In July 1974, the DMK MPs in Parliament, including the revered Era Sezhiyan in the Lok Sabha and S S Marisamy in the Rajya Sabha, had categorically made it clear that we rejected the agreement ceding Katchatheevu to Lanka,” he added. Wondering why Jayalalitha chose to make the allegations now, Karunanidhi cited a letter during the AIADMK regime in 1992, written by erstwhile prime minister P V Narasimha Rao.
 
“The ceding of this tiny Island to Sri Lanka had been done by the Government of India in the interest of better bilateral relations,” the letter to Jayalalitha stated. The same reason is being adduced by the central ministers even today, Karunanidhi said.

Jayalalitha, while replying to a special mention by the Opposition members in the Assembly on Tuesday, had demanded firm diplomatic action by the Centre to stop the frequent attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.

“The Sri Lankan envoy in New Delhi should be summoned to lodge India’s strong protest against the attacks,” she had said. Jayalalitha had also reiterated her demand for “abrogation of the maritime boundary agreement between India and Sri Lanka in 1974,” under which Katchatheevu went to the latter.

The AIADMK leader has also filed a case in the Supreme Court in this regard.

SunRisers echo in TN House

“For all his pro-Tamil avowals, how is DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi allowing his own grand-nephew Kalanidhi Maran-owned IPL franchisee, ‘SunRisers’ (now part of the Sun Network Group) cricket team to be led by a Sri Lankan player Kumar Sangakara?” Taking a dig at the DMK leader with this stinging poser,  AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha told the Assembly on Wednesday that “SunRisers” had another Sri Lankan cricket player too in Thisara Perera, reports DHNS from Chennai.

“On the one hand, Karunanidhi gives the impression of deeply melting for the Sri Lankan Tamils’ cause. On the other hand, he continues his ties with the Congress at the Centre which had stood by the Sri Lankan regime that crushed the Tamils there,” Jayalalitha said.

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