CPI urges Govt to re-negotiate Katchatheevu issue with Lanka

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New Delhi, Jul 29 (UNI) The Communist Party of India (CPI), after nearly 34 years, today broke its silence on the 1974 Katchatheevu Island issue and urged the Government to re-negotiate with the Sri Lankan Government to ensure the fishing rights of the Indian fishermen in the-Palk-Strait in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.

Addressing newspersons here, Party National Secretary and Rajya Sabha MP D Raja said this piece of the Indian teritory was conceded to the Sri Lankan Government in 1974 by the then Congress Goverment led by Indira Gandhi.

He said though the original agreement provided not only for the fishing rights but also allowed them to rest in the Island and dry their fishing nets, but this agreement was changed by an executive order in 1976. Since then, the Indian fishermen were in trouble.

He said since 1983, the Sri Lankan Navy had fired at the Indian fishermen several times in the high seas, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of them and disappearance of several others in the past.

According to a survey conducted by the Indian fishermen, about 67 of them had disappeared from the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu alone, Mr Raja added.

He said the CPI not only wants that Government to raise this issue at the two-day long SAARC summit starting from August 2 at Colombo in Sri Lanka.

He said the party also urged the Government to stop supplying arms and ammunitions to the Sri Lankan Government, which were being ''exclusively'' used against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka.

The party would also stage a protest rally outside the Sri Lankan High Commission at Chennai tomorrow on this issue.

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