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Katchatheevu row : Jayalalithaa threatens to move apex court

The storm in the Palk Strait is gathering strength again. Turning the heat on the DMK and the state Government...

| Chennai |
August 1, 2008 11:57:28 pm

The storm in the Palk Strait is gathering strength again. Turning the heat on the DMK and the state Government, Opposition leader and AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa has threatened to move the Supreme Court to retrieve the Katchatheevu Islet from Sri Lanka.

The killing of Tamil fishermen, allegedly by the Lankan Navy, on July 9 and 12 had set off a wave of protests in the coastal districts coupled with the demand to retrieve the islet which witnessed a number of shootings at fishermen from the state as well. Though the protests were marooned in the trust vote and unearthing of a terror module here, Jayalalithaa has turned the focus back on the issue.

Terming the secession as a “monumental blunder”, she charged Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who was the chief minister even then, of raising mere “token noises of protest”. According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, territorial waters means the area from the baseline on the coast to 12 nautical miles into the sea, she said, adding that as per this definition, the 285-acre, uninhabited Katchatheevu islet, lying at a distance of 11 nautical miles from Ramanathapuram, fell within Indian waters.

Jaya quoted revenue records to assert her contention that the islet, assigned the survey number 1250, was a part of the Raja of Ramnad’s zamindari, and was subsequently made a part of the Madras Presidency after zamindari was abolished in 1948.

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According to the statement issued by her on Thursday, the agreement to cede Katcha-theevu to Sri Lanka was signed between late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, without consulting the Parliament.

“The Supreme Court of India, in a case relating to the Indo-Pakistan agreement on Berubary Union and exchange of enclaves, ruled that any ceding of Indian territory to another country resulted in ‘diminution of the Territory of the Indian Union’ and therefore must be endorsed by the Parliament through a constitutional amendment as laid down by Article 368,” she said, urging PM Manmohan Singh to approach the apex court to retrieve the territory back.

“If the PM is not willing to do this, I will move the Supreme Court, in my capacity as general secretary of the AIADMK and a former chief minister of Tamil Nadu for a direction to the Government of India to do so, or pray that the apex court set aside the ceding of Kachatheevu to Sri Lanka by the Indira Gandhi Government,” she warned.

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The issue of the fishermen’s safety was taken up by all political parties after they came under fire from the Lankan Navy, which, however, insists that it was the handiwork of the LTTE militants. The fishermen protested across the district against the attacks and were promptly backed by all parties, including the ruling DMK who organised state-wide fasts to bring it to the notice of the Union Government. They finally took to the sea again only after the CM assured to take up their matter with the Centre.

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First published on: 01-08-2008 at 11:57:28 pm

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