Jaishankar says DMK was party to Katchatheevu negotiations with Sri Lanka

Stepping up his attack against the DMK, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar claimed on Thursday the regional party was very much a party to the then Central government's negotiations with Sri Lanka on Katchatheevu island and the outcome five decades ago.
EAM Jaishankar
EAM Jaishankar

Thiruvananthapuram | Stepping up his attack against the DMK, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar claimed on Thursday the regional party was very much a party to the then Central government's negotiations with Sri Lanka on Katchatheevu island and the outcome five decades ago.

As the issue continued to dominate the poll campaign in Tamil Nadu, Jaishankar claimed that agreements could be reached between India and Sri Lanka on the island after the then DMK government was kept in the loop.

"I think what is most important is that the people of Tamil Nadu should know the truth. How did it happen? It happens because when the Central government was negotiating this issue, they were actually consulting the then state government, which was led by the DMK, but that was kept as a secret.

"So, DMK was very much a party to these negotiations, very much a party to this outcome," the Minister said, responding to a query during an interaction with the media here.

Citing documents that became public via the RTI, he said what they showed was that from 1973 onwards, the then Central government and Foreign ministry held continuous and detailed consultation with the Tamil Nadu government and the then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi personally on this matter.

"And in fact, the position of the DMK was, "Okay, we agree with all of these, but you know, in public, we will not support it. So, in public, we will say something else, but actually we are with you," Jaishankar claimed, while taking a dig at the DMK's claim that they were the champions of Tamils and fishermen.

He said the island issue has been frequently raised in Parliament and has been a matter of frequent correspondence between the Centre and the state government.

"I can remember replying to more than 20 letters on this issue (to the current chief minister of Tamil Nadu M K Stalin)," the minister said.

Earlier on April 1, Jaishankar had claimed that prime ministers from the Congress displayed indifference about Katchatheevu island as if they did not care and gave away Indian fishermen's rights despite legal views to the contrary.

He had that Prime Ministers such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi dubbed Katchatheevu, given to Sri Lanka in 1974 as part of a maritime boundary agreement, as a "little island" and "little rock", asserting the issue has not cropped up abruptly but was always a live matter.

He had said records exist of the then foreign secretary keeping the then Tamil Nadu chief minister Karunanidhi, the late DMK patriarch, fully informed of the talks between the two countries.

Jaishankar had also accused the regional party of conniving with the Congress in 1974 and thereafter in creating the situation, which has been a cause of "great concern."

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