India to ask Sri Lanka to allow fishing near Katchatheevu

India is to ask Sri Lanka to allow Indian fishermen to fish near Katchatheevu, India’s External Affair Minister S Jaishankar said.

Amid disclosures through RTI that India did not try hard enough to keep Katchatheevu, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Indian Government will open negotiations with Sri Lanka over the implementation of the India-Sri Lanka Maritime Boundary Act and a subsequent deal based on which Colombo is stopping Indian fishermen from operating in waters near the island.

“We should get fishing rights. We need to sit with Sri Lankan authorities and sort it out. Even today, our fishermen are being arrested and vessels are being seized. Katchatheevu island was given away in 1974 and fishing rights were given away in 1976,” Jaishankar said as he held Congress and DMK equally responsible for “ceding claim without putting up resistance”.

In past 20 years, 6,184 Indian fishermen have been detained and 1,175 Indian fishing vessels seized, detained or apprehended by Sri Lanka, Jaishankar said as he called out DMK and Congress for making it appear that the issue has emerged out of thin air and they were not responsible for the island being ceded to Sri Lanka.

Former Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday defended the agreement to give away the Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka.

He said this agreement was arrived at in 1974 and 1976 after long negotiations. “PM Modi is referring to a recent RTI reply, he should refer to the RTI reply of January 27, 2015, when I believe EAM S Jaishankar was foreign secretary. That reply clearly says that after negotiations, the island lay on the Srilankan side of the international border,” he said in a video response shared by news agency ANI.