Katchatheevu is an uninhabited island located in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. The island has been a subject of dispute and controversy between the two countries for many decades. It is currently under the control of Sri Lanka.

    Historical Background:

    1. Katchatheevu has a long and complex history, having been under the control of various entities over the centuries.
    2. During the British colonial era, the island was ruled by both India and Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon).
    3. After India's independence in 1947, Sri Lanka claimed the island due to its strategic location.

    Transfer to Sri Lanka:

    1. In 1974, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed an agreement with Sri Lanka, handing over Katchatheevu to the island nation without any discussion with the Indian people or parliament.
    2. The move was seen as an attempt to gain Sri Lanka's support for India's nuclear tests and garner support from neighbours.

    Controversies and Issues:

    1. The transfer of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka has created many problems for Indian fishermen.
    2. The 1974 agreement secured Indian fishermen the right to dry their nets and use the island's church for religious rituals.
    3. However, the delimitation of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in 1976 superseded the 1974 agreement, effectively revoking the rights of Indian fishermen to engage in these activities on the island.
    4. The abolition of Katchatheevu in India is considered illegal as it was not approved by the Indian Parliament.
    5. The Supreme Court of India ruled in the Berubari Union case (1960) that the ceding of Indian territory to another country must be approved by the Parliament through a Constitutional Amendment Act.
    6. Therefore, the transfer of Katchatheevu is considered unconstitutional and illegal by some people in India.

    Sri Lanka's Stance:

    1. Sri Lanka has been claiming Katchatheevu for years and has been denying Indian fishermen rights to the island.
    2. The Sri Lankan government says the Indian court cannot void the 1974 agreement and claims it gave India an island called "Vegabank" in return.

    Recent Developments:

    1. In March 2024, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized the Congress Party for alleged negligence in handing over Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka.
    2. His comments came in response to an RTI query by Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai, which revealed that the Indira Gandhi-led government had handed over the island to Sri Lanka in 1974.
    3. PM Modi accused Congress of weakening the unity of India through this action.


    The controversy surrounding Katchatheevu is a matter of real concern for Indian Tamils. To avoid further problems in the future, a discussion-based solution should be adopted that clarifies the issues and seeks consensus. Diplomatic efforts and dialogue are necessary to resolve the long-standing dispute between India and Sri Lanka and ensure the rights and welfare of the affected communities on both sides.

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