BJP to raise Katchatheevu issue in Parliament

Nagapattinam (TN), Feb 4 (PTI) BJP would study in detailthe issue of retrieving Katchatheevu, ceded to Sri Lanka byIndia in 1974, and then raise it in Parliament, senior partyleader Sushma Swaraj said today.

"I will study the issue in detail, discuss it with ourparty leaders and then raise it in Parliament," the Oppositionleader in the Lok Sabha told a gathering of fishermen atPushpavanam fishing hamlet in the district.

Accompanied by Tamil Nadu BJP leaders, Swaraj visited thehamlet to console family members of Jayakumar, a fisherman whowas allegedly killed by the Lankan Navy a fortnight ago.

She also handed over a cheque for Rs two lakh to thevictim''s wife.

A visibly moved Swaraj said the "small amount" was just atoken of solidarity. Though nothing could bring the deceasedto life, the financial assistance could be of use foreducating the children, she said.

The family members appealed to her to take steps toprevent such attacks in future. "What happened to my husbandshould not happen to anyone else," Murugeswari said.

Fishermen associations alleged that more than 500 oftheir men had been killed by the Lankan Navy and over 2,000sustained injuries during the past two decades.

Indian fishermen cross the international maritimeboundary line (IMBL) unintentionally due to inclement weather,mechanical problems in boat and other issues, they said to theBJP leader.

"When we stray into Sri Lankan waters, the Lankan Navyfires at us.... The Lankan authorities should only take legalaction," they said.

The fishermen told Swaraj that retrieving Katchatheevufrom Sri Lanka was the only solution to end their sufferings.

Swaraj assured them that she would fight for their causeat all forums. "The BJP does not have representation inParliament from Tamil Nadu. But, I will act like a Tamil NaduMP and voice for the safety and security of fishermen."

Later, when asked her if Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao''srecent meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa onthis issue will have any positive effect, Swaraj hoped thatthe government there will reflect on this sincerely.

"The Lankan President has also accepted that killing offishermen is not the solution. Let us hope for the best fromthem," she said.

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