In a bid to put an end to frequent attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan navy, the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Centre to retrieve Kachchativu island ceded to Sri Lanka under a 1974 agreement signed between India and Sri Lanka.
Tamil Nadu fishermen say they cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) to fish in the waters of the Kachchativu island as part of a traditional norm and hence get attacked by the Sri Lankan navy. The Lankan navy personnel, however, accuse the fishermen of going beyond the island and closer to the country’s borders to fish.
The resolution, moved by the chief minister J Jayalalithaa, drew the attention of the House to a Supreme Court order in 1960 in the Berubari case, wherein it was stated that any agreement on cession of Indian territory to another nation need to be ratified by both Houses of Parliament through an amendment of the Constitution. “Going by the SC verdict, ceding of Kachchativu is not valid,” the resolution said, while pointing out the fishing rights and livelihood concerns of Indian fishermen.
Immediately after assuming charge in 2011, the AIADMK government adopted an unanimous resolution in the assembly, allowing the state revenue department to implead itself in a case filed by Jayalalithaa in the Supreme Court, in her capacity as AIADMK general secretary in 2008. The petition sought to get the 1974 and 1976 agreements between both the countries on ceding Kachchativu to Sri Lanka as unconstitutional.
Winding up the debate, Jayalalithaa slammed the former chief minister and DMK chief M Karunanidhi for not taking any concrete steps to retrieve the island, despite enjoying the support of the various governments at the Centre for more than 16 years (with BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and subsequently with Congress-led United Progressive Alliance).
“After I assumed charge for the second time, I urged the Prime Minister in person and through letters to restore the traditional fishing rights of Tamil fishermen in Kachchativu, through lease in perpetuity. But the Centre did not take any steps, probably because it was surviving on DMK’s support,” Jayalalithaa said.(Times of India)