Why Did Congress’ Indira Gandhi Cede Katchatheevu Island To Sri Lanka? Everything To Know About It

Katchatheevu India Sri Lanka

The signing of the Katchatheevu agreement in 1974 by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi continues to reverberate through Indian politics. At the heels of the approaching Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone ahead to rejuvenate the debate by criticizing the decision to “cede” the island to Sri Lanka.


Background Of The Katchatheevu Agreement

In 1974, Indira Gandhi signed an agreement with Sri Lanka yielding Katchatheevu. Opponents charged the Congress Government with making a concession of Indian state out of national territory. Narendra Modi criticized the move ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The agreement launched controversies around who would be the master of the high seas.


Ownership Recognition And Terms


India restricted Sri Lanka’s forfeiture based on the 1974 agreement’s ownership. The Treaty decided on the lines of demarcation, territorialities, and maritime affairs. It was signed in Colombo on June 26, 1974, and in New Delhi on June 28, 1974. On the other hand, the rules preserved a fishing role for the local Indians but limited their access rights to the island.


St. Anthony’s Shrine And Access Rights

St. Anthony's Shrine Katchatheevu

Indian fishermen can attend the annual festival on the island. Under the agreement, they are permitted to rest and dry nets. St. Anthony’s shrine is the only structure on Katchatheevu. Access to the shrine remains a contentious issue for Indian fishermen. The shrine holds religious significance for both Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen.


Ongoing Tamil Nadu Grievances

Despite the agreement, Tamil Nadu fishermen are facing arrest by Sri Lanka. The decision to cede the island has sparked controversy in Tamil Nadu. Fishermen continue to protest against arrests and loss of livelihood. Tamil Nadu politicians often raise the issue for electoral gains. The plight of Tamil Nadu fishermen remains a major concern.


Judicial Response And Political Implications

Katchatheevu Island

The Supreme Court of India dismissed the petitions, citing the political context of the case. Chief Justice RM Lodha said these were political issues for the Congress. The debate is an important political one in India. It highlights the complex nature of India’s government structure and diplomatic relations. The Katchatheevu debate highlights the challenges of balancing regional and national interests.

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Gauri Goel
the authorGauri Goel
A soul working on a beautiful path called life, expressing through writing.