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Katchatheevu Agreement 1974 Pdf 15 ((EXCLUSIVE))

This island was with India till 1974 when it was ceded to Sri Lanka by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Since then, Indian people from Tamil Nadu have demanded to get it back from Sri Lanka. On the other hand, Sri Lanka had claimed that it had belonged them only right since British Era.

Katchatheevu Agreement 1974 Pdf 15

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This island seems to have been under the Kings of Ramanathapuram in modern Tamil Nadu. During the British era, the island was administered by both the sides. Sri Lanka claimed it mainly because of its strategic location; and this issue was discussed many a times before 1974.

After the 1974 nuclear tests, India was under enormous international pressure and there was a need to garner support from neighbours. Sri Lanka was to host the NAM summit in 1976 and it was likely that president of UNGA may be from Sri Lanka. Thus, Indira Gandhi quickly signed an agreement with Sri Lanka and ceded the territory without any discussion with Indian people or parliament mainly to garner support from Sri Lanka.

This 1974 agreement had secured the rights of Indian fishermen only to dry their nets and use Church for religious observance. But then in 1976, delimitation of International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) was agreed upon as required by the UNCLOS. With this, Indian fishermen do not have any right to even engage in drying of nets and use of Church because 1976 agreement superseded 1974 agreement.

Ownership of the island was controversial up until 1974 as during the British rule, the island was administered by both countries. India then recognized equal ownership with Sri Lanka. The legality of the transfer was challenged in the Indian Supreme Court since the recognizing was not ratified by the Indian Parliament. This recognition of an island that is culturally important to fishermen of Tamil Nadu state in India has led to some agitations by Tamil Nadu politicians that it should be claimed to Indian sovereignty. The island is also important for fishing grounds used by fishers from both countries. The Indo-Sri Lankan agreement allows Indian fishermen to fish around Katchatheevu and to dry their nets on the island. As part of the Sri Lankan Civil War, the arrangement led to many difficulties with the Sri Lankan Navy, which was deployed to prevent smuggling of weapons by the rebel group LTTE. The island has a Catholic shrine that attracted devotees from both countries.[3]

The main problem continues to grow as more fisherman move into the Sri Lankan sea area for illegal poaching. In 2010 the Sri Lankan government issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government saying the Indian court cannot nullify the 1974 agreement.[4]

In June 2011 the new Tamil Nadu government led by the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalithaa, filed a petition in the Supreme Court that the declaration of the 1974 and 1976 agreements between India and Sri Lanka on ceding of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka were unconstitutional.[5] The court ruled in the Berubari case that the cession of Indian territory to another country had to be ratified by parliament through amendment of the Constitution.

However, the Indian government has stated, "No territory belonging to India was ceded nor sovereignty relinquished since the area was in dispute and had never been demarcated" and that the dispute on the status of the island was settled in 1974 by an agreement, and both countries took into account historical evidence and legal aspects.[6]

St Antony's shrine is the only structure on the island. It is a shrine-church named after Antony of Padua, considered a patron saint of seafarers by Christians. It was built by a prosperous Indian Catholic (Tamilian) fisherman Srinivasa Padaiyachi in the early 20th century. The annual church festival runs for three days. Christian priests from both India and Sri Lanka conduct the worship services (mass) and procession. Pilgrims from India are ferried mostly from Rameswaram. According to the agreement between the Indian and Sri Lankan government, the citizens of India are not required to possess an Indian passport or Sri Lankan visa for visiting Kachchatheevu. The island lacks drinking water.


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