Katchatheevu Island

Katchatheevu Island

Context: Information obtained through a Right to Information (RTI) application has revealed Indias fluctuating approach to the Katchatheevu island dispute with Sri Lanka.

About Katchatheevu Island:
• Situated in the Palk Strait, between India and Sri Lanka, is the small, uninhabited island of Katchatheevu.
• Fishermen from both Sri Lanka and India heavily rely on the waters surrounding Katchatheevu for fishing.
• Historically, under the Madras Presidency of British India, Katchatheevu was part of the princely kingdom within the Ramnad Kingdom.
• After India gained independence in 1947, the island was incorporated into the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Details revealed in the documents:
• Documents reveal Sri Lankas persistent efforts to claim the 1.9 square kilometers of territory located approximately 20 km from the Indian coastline.
• Sri Lankas claim is based on historical disputes that New Delhi contested for decades before ultimately relenting.
• Following independence, Ceylon, later renamed Sri Lanka, asserted that the Royal Indian Navy, now the Indian Navy, could not conduct exercises on the island without its consent.
• In 1974, then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ceded the territory in the Palk Strait to Sri Lanka.
• Multifaceted Issues: The decision to relinquish Katchatheevu has sparked controversy in Tamil Nadu, particularly among fishermen who frequently face arrest by Sri Lankan authorities.
• The transfer of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka has adversely affected Indian fishermen, predominantly from Tamil Nadu, who often find themselves detained by the Sri Lankan Navy.

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