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Katchatheevu Island Issue: Political Dispute and Historical Context

The controversy surrounding the Katchatheevu island issue has reignited political tensions between India’s ruling BJP and the opposition Congress party. While BJP leaders accuse the Congress of negligently ceding the island to Sri Lanka in 1974, the Sri Lankan Cabinet maintains that the issue has never been discussed at the governmental level.

Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar criticized both the Congress and the ruling DMK for purportedly disregarding Indian fishermen’s rights over Katchatheevu. However, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram defended the decision, arguing that it was made in the interest of maintaining good relations with Sri Lanka and safeguarding Tamil lives. Chidambaram emphasized that the issue was resolved five decades ago, and the island’s cession to Sri Lanka facilitated the resettlement of thousands of Tamil refugees in India.