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Katchatheevu No Ground: Sri Lankan Minister Rejects Statements of Indian Leaders About Katchatheevu

Katchatheevu No Ground: Douglas Devananda, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Fisheries, stated that remarks from India regarding the Katchatheevu island are not surprising, especially during election time. He added that statements made by Indian politicians about ‘reclaiming’ the island hold no merit. Devananda emphasized that such assertions lack credibility and are not based on factual grounds.

He highlighted the importance of understanding the historical context and existing agreements regarding the Katchatheevu island. Devananda urged for constructive dialogue and cooperation between India and Sri Lanka to address any concerns regarding territorial matters.

Douglas Devananda, the Sri Lankan minister, spoke about this issue amid the political tensions in India before the upcoming elections. The ruling BJP, aiming for a third term in power, has accused its rival, the Congress party, of giving up control of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka.

In response to the controversy, Devananda noted the timing of India’s Lok Sabha polls, set to commence on April 19. He stated that during election periods, it is common to hear various claims and counterclaims, including those concerning Katchatheevu. Devananda emphasized that the assertions about ‘reclaiming’ Katchatheevu from Sri Lanka lack factual basis.

Devananda’s remarks shed light on the political dynamics surrounding the Katchatheevu issue, especially in the context of India’s upcoming elections. He highlighted the need to understand the motivations behind such statements and urged for a pragmatic approach to address any territorial disputes. Devananda stressed the importance of maintaining constructive dialogue and cooperation between India and Sri Lanka to resolve such matters amicably.

The minister expressed that New Delhi aims to control the island to prevent Sri Lankan fishermen from accessing it and to ensure that Colombo does not assert any rights over its resources. He also mentioned another area known as the “West Bank,” located below Kanyakumari, which he described as much larger than Katchatheevu.

Katchatheevu No Ground

Devananda elaborated on the “West Bank,” stating that it boasts extensive sea resources and is approximately 80 times larger than Katchatheevu. He highlighted that India obtained control over this area through the 1976 review agreement. The minister’s comments shed light on India’s efforts to secure strategic locations in the region and protect its interests. He emphasized the significance of these territories in the context of maritime resources and geopolitical dynamics in the region. Devananda’s remarks underscore the complex issues surrounding territorial claims and the efforts of nations to safeguard their interests in the maritime domain.

Kanyakumari, located in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India, is governed by the Congress ally DMK. The BJP has accused the DMK of being indifferent towards the Katchatheevu issue. In response, both parties have criticized the Narendra Modi government for remaining silent on the matter despite being in power for a decade.

According to India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, the 1974 agreement signed by the Congress government under Indira Gandhi allowed Indian fishermen to access Katchatheevu without needing travel documents. However, an additional agreement signed in 1976 revoked this right.

Jaishankar highlighted this discrepancy during a recent press conference. His remarks shed light on the evolving nature of India’s policies regarding Katchatheevu and underscored the complexities surrounding the issue. The differing interpretations of these agreements have fueled political debates and accusations between parties.

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