Mounting pressure on the Centre to retrieve Katchatheevu and redraw the maritime boundary with Sri Lanka, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday said that it alone would enable Tamil Nadu fishermen to carry out fishing in their traditional waters without any apprehension about their safety.

Writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue again, she drew his attention to the unanimous resolution passed by the state assembly on May 3 pressing for the retrieval of the islet in the Palk Strait.

The agreement signed between India and Sri Lanka by Indira Gandhi and Sirimavo R D Bandaranaike on June 26, 1974, to cede Katchatheevu to the island nation did not have the stamp of approval of both the Houses of Parliament through a Constitutional amendment, the Chief Minister pointed out. As such it was a unilateral act of the government of India, she maintained and urged the Centre to take urgent steps to  retrieve Katchatheevu and the areas surrounding it from Sri Lanka. Then, it should be followed up with a redrawing of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

“The stand of the government of Tamil Nadu is that Katchatheevu has always been a part of India, geographically, culturally and historically and needs to be retrieved, keeping in view the livelihood interests and security of thousands of Indian fishermen,” the Chief Minister said.

As incidents of shooting, attacks against and harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Lankan Navy continued unabated, she, in her personal capacity as the general secretary of the AIADMK, had filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court in 2008. She had urged the SC to consider the 1974 and 1976 agreements, which have been the root cause for the misery of Tamil Nadu fishermen, as null and void in the absence of the mandatory Constitutional amendment required and to retrieve the islet. (New India Express)