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Ex-SL ambassador to Myanmar says Modi playing politics with Katchatheevu

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Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to Myanmar Prof. Nalin de Silva has criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent comments on Katchatheevu, the 285-acre uninhabited islet in the Palk Strait, between India and Sri Lanka. It is no more than 1.6 km in length and slightly over 300 m wide at its broadest point.

Prof. de Silva asserted that the Indian leader’s statement was meant to garner South Indian support in the run-up to parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held next year.

Pointing out that Indians could attend the annual St. Anthony’s feast on Katchatheevu without visas, the former diplomat stressed that Indian poaching was opposed by Sri Lankan Tamils here.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech in the Parliament during the No-Confidence debate on 10 August, referred toKatchatheevu.Hitting out at Rahul Gandhi, PM Modi said it was the Indira Gandhi government which gave away Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka in 1974.

“Katchatheevu is an island between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Somebody gave it to another country. It happened under the leadership of Indira Gandhi,” he said. “Wasn’t that part of Maa Bharati there?” he said. The PM raised the issue in the wake of repeated complains from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin that the transfer of Katchatheevu has deprived Tamil Nadu fishermen’s rights and adversely impacted their livelihoods. (SF)

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