‘Why PM is so sentimental about Katchatheevu’: Chidambaram says it was not handed over to Lanka

Congress leader P. Chidambaram asked what Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been in power for almost a decade, have done to resolve the Katchatheevu island issue, if they really believe that the island should belong to Sri Lanka.

Chidambaram said BJP and PM Modi do not want to answer any questions and highlighted the RTI reply filed by the Ministry of External Affairs in 2015. Referring to the RTI reply, he said that the Government of India had earlier agreed that the island of Katchatheevu fell in the Sri Lankan part of the International Maritime Boundary Line and that the island had not been acquired or handed over to anyone.

“Then how does the Prime Minister say that Katchatheevu has been handed over to Sri Lanka? Why doesn’t he read the records of his own government? Who was the Prime Minister in 2015? This was Shri Narendra Modi. Where was Shri Jaishankar? Jaishankar was a second-ranking official in the Ministry of External Affairs and I think the next day he took over as Foreign Secretary. So after giving a formal statement in 2015, why does the PM suddenly wake up after 9 years?,” Chidambaram asked.

The Congress leader said that PM Modi remained silent for 9 years after the RTI reply and suddenly in the middle of the elections he asked the BJP President an RTI question. The Katchatheevu island controversy began when Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai filed an RTI on the island, following which PM Modi and other BJP leaders accused the Congress party of “insensitively” giving away the island.

“This is a staged managed controversy, this is a manufactured controversy. The Prime Minister is doing great injustice to the Sri Lankan Tamils. After the signing of the Katchatheevu Agreement, about 6 lakh Tamils were repatriated, brought back to India. They are living peacefully here.

Besides, there are 25 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka, about 10 lakh Indian Tamils are in Sri Lanka… Their interests are paramount,” Chidambaram said, adding that there is a situation of conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamils or between the Sinhalese people. Tamils will harm Tamil people. He criticized PM Modi for not caring about the welfare of Tamils and making ‘unconstrained statements’.