• Saturday, April 20, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Modi tears into opposition Congress for ‘callously’ giving away island to Sri Lanka

A report recently cited a RTI (right to information) reply that said former prime minister Indira Gandhi had ceded the island to the neighbouring country in 1974.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi (Photo by Saeed Khan-Pool/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

IN a fresh attack on the opposition Indian National Congress, prime minister Narendra Modi on Sunday (31) referenced a media report to affirm that recent findings indicate the Congress party had “callously” surrendered the Katchatheevu island to southern maritime neighbour Sri Lanka.

Sharing on X a report by the Times of India which spoke about a RTI (right to information) reply that said former prime minister Indira Gandhi had ceded the island, measuring less than two square kilometres and located about 20 kilometres from the Indian shores, in 1974, he said, “Eye-opening and startling! New facts reveal how Congress callously gave away Katchatheevu. This has angered every Indian and reaffirmed in people’s minds – we can’t ever trust Congress.”

“Weakening India’s unity, integrity and interests has been Congress’ way of working for 75 years and counting,” the prime minister added.

Read: China to develop Sri Lanka’s strategic infrastructure

Sudhanshu Trivedi, spokesperson of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), claimed that the decision of the then Congress government in New Delhi is behind fishermen from India’s Tamil Nadu getting caught and imprisoned by Sri Lankan officials as they wander to the island.

Tamil Nadu’s fishermen would go there earlier but India’s agreement with Lanka barred them from doing so, he added.

Read: All 12 McDonald’s outlets in Sri Lanka shut over poor hygiene

He also took a dig at Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which is an ally of the Congress and contesting this year’s election together in the state, saying neither of the two parties spoke about the matter while Modi did so since he is committed to the country and its people.

The BJP, which is still not a big force in Tamil Nadu and a lack of a major ally in this year’s election, is optimistic that the issue will help it gain political traction in the Dravidian territory ahead of the general polls, more so as it involves neighbouring Sri Lanka whose treatment of its Tamil people has long been a charged political issue in the state.

The Times report is based on an RTI reply that the BJP chief of Tamil Nadu, K Annamalai, received.

The report also cited first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s saying that he would have no hesitation in giving up claims to the island. The issue has been a source of dispute between India and Lanka. The BJP often accuses Nehru’s foreign policies to be reasons behind the country’s border disputes with two nuclear-armed neighbours of Pakistan and China.

In a dig at senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, a successor of Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Trivedi asked why he is silent on the issue and said he should tell people that his party and his family are responsible for this.

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