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"Congress did it, DMK hid it": BJP leader targets ruling coalition allies in Tamil Nadu over Katchatheevu island row

1 Apr 2024

New Delhi [India], April 1 (ANI): BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla on Monday attacked the Congress and DMK over the Katchatheevu island row and said the then Congress government ceded the island to Sri Lanka in 1974.

The BJP leader alleged that the "first family of the Congress party and the first family of the DMK together colluded" and Katchatheevu island was handed over to Sri Lanka on a platter.

"It was DMK leaders who were constantly raising this issue. The entire saga of 3Cs - collusion, concealment and conspiracy - is out in the open. How the first family of the Congress party and the first family of the DMK together colluded, conspired and concealed the handing over of Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka on a platter, thereby compromising not just our national sovereignty and security, integrity but also putting the lives and livelihoods of lakhs of Tamil Nadu farmers in danger..," he asked.

"Congress did it, DMK hid it. These two parties are responsible for it. Congress took then Tamil Nadu CM Karunanidhi into confidence and Karunanidhi said despite strong public reactions, he will manage," the BJP leader added.

The decades-old territorial and fishing rights dispute around Katchatheevu Island is in the limelight ahead of polling in Tamil Nadu for Lok Sabha polls on April 19 with the BJP and the opposition engaged in a war of words over the issue.

PM Modi on Monday targeted the DMK over the Katchatheevu island issue, alleging the ruling party of Tamil Nadu did nothing to safeguard the state's interests.

"Eye opening and startling! New facts reveal how Congress callously gave away Katchatheevu. This has angered every Indian and reaffirmed in people's minds- we can't ever trust Congress! Weakening India's unity, integrity and interests has been Congress' way of working for 75 years and counting," PM Modi said in a post on X on Sunday referring to a media report.

He targeted DMK over the issue on Monday. "Rhetoric aside, DMK has done NOTHING to safeguard Tamil Nadu's interests. New details emerging on Katchatheevu have UNMASKED the DMK's double standards totally. Congress and DMK are family units. They only care that their own sons and daughters rise. They don't care for anyone else. Their callousness on Katchatheevu has harmed the interests of our poor fishermen and fisherwomen in particular," PM Modi said on X.

The media report is based on an RTI reply received by Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai to his queries on the 1974 agreement between India and Lanka when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister.

Doubling down on PM Modi's charge at Opposition over the Katchatheevu island row, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today alleged that India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru did not give importance to the island territory.

"This is an observation by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in May of 1961. He says, he writes, I attach no importance at all to this little island and I would have no hesitation in giving up our claim to it. I do not like matters like this pending. Indefinitely and being raised again and again in parliament. So to Pandit Nehru, this was a little island. It had no importance. He saw it as a nuisance," Jaishankar said at a press conference.

The island, located between Rameswaram in India and Sri Lanka, was traditionally used by both Sri Lankan and Indian fishermen.

In 1974, the then central government accepted Katchatheevu as Sri Lankan territory under the "Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime Agreement." (ANI)

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