கச்சதீவும் நமதே கீழை கடலும் நமதே!




THE DICTATORIAL ACT OF CONGRESS AND THE LOSS OF KATCHATHEEVU ISLAND

India is a country with different rationalities people of which have formulated a Constituion to protect the interest of each and every citizen. It is no less an act of betrayal, and anti national, when a territory belonging to people of a particular nationality being ceded to a foreign power, that too without obtaining the consent of that people. This could be summarized as a dictatorial act. Katchatheevu Island was ceded to Sri Lanka by the then Congress Government through the 1974 agreement, which agreement had not even been ratified by the Indian parliament. Traditionally Katchatheevu Island had been the territory of Tamils. The foregoing chapters dealt in detail the Tamils traditional right over Katchatheevu Island. The Sinhalese were often found staking a claim over Katchatheevu Island. During 1920, the Sinhalese made a claim with the British rulers over the Katchatheevu Island. Even then Katchatheevu Island continued to remain a territory of Tamils.

After independence, during 1951 and again in 1954, Sri Lanka laid a claim over Katchatheevu Island. Dudly Senanayake and John Kothalawala were the Srilankan Prime Ministers, and Jawaharlal Nehru was the then Indian Prime Minister. Jawaharlal Nehru did not show any interest over Katchatheevu Island. This emboldened the Sri Lankans to conduct a Military exercise in Katchatheevu Island in 1955. When this was raised in Parliament, Jawaharlal Nehru would only say that the issue is being analyzed. In the mean time Sri Lanka agreed to wait for a final decision on Katchatheevu Island and announced “postponement of military exercises” till then. Again during 1968 the issue on Katchatheevu Island was raised in Parliament. Mrs.lndira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, following the footsteps of her father Jawaharlal Nehru did not pay much attention and replied that she is awaiting details on Katchatheevu Island from the Government of Tamilnadu. During the same period, on 02.03.1968, the Samyuktha Socialist Part, which had only 2 members in the Tarnilnadu assembly moved an adjournment motion on the issue of Katchatheevu Island, Pulavar Govindan, the then Deputy Speaker, (who was then in Chiar) said that the issue of Katchatheevu Island is an external affairs issue to be addressed by the Central Government.

The DMK had 138 members in the Assembly at that time. This is the manner in which the DMK, once a patriarch of separate Dravidian land, viewed the issue of Katchatheevu Island. In 1974, the Prime Ministers of both the nations deliberated on handing over Katchatheevu Island to Sri Lanka. On 26.06.1974, Mrs.Bandaranayke, signed the agreement in Colombo and on 28.06.1974. Mrs. Indira Gandhi signed the fateful agreement. On 23.07.1974 a report on this agreement was read over in the Parliament. Till date the agreement has not been ratified by the parliament. Mrs. Indira Gandhi, fairly admitted that Katchatheevu Island was ceded for political reasons and not on documentary evidences.

It is worth mentioning that during the Indo China War and Indo Pak war, Sri Lanka had always supported China and Pakistan. In reciprocation of Sri Lanka’s support during the Bangladesh War, Pakistan gave two planes to Sri Lanka. It is widely reported that after the 1971 Indo Pak War, Pakistan sought to establish an Air base in Sri Lanka and this was vehemently opposed by India. On its part Sri Lanka demanded that, to keep Pakistan in bay, Katchatheevu Island be ceded to it. Mrs. Indira Gandhi is reported to have accepted to this barter. This is the political reason that is widely reported to be the reason for ceding Katchatheevu Island to Sri Lanka. Considering the stature of Mrs.Indira Gandhi and the political power which she wielded during that time, Mrs, Indiara Gandhi was in the height of her political career and it in the next year viz., 1975 she declared Emergency, it is rather doubtful whether Mrs.Indira Gandhi would have yielded to the dictates of Mrs.Bandaranayake.

Mrs.Bandaranayake is considered very close to the Nehru family. Even during the days of Mr.Bandaranayake, there was close relationship between Jawaharlal Nehru family and Bandaranayake family. After, the death of Mr.Bandaranayake, Mrs. Bandaranayake became the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. She had the distinction of being the first Women Prime Minister in the World. The relationship between her and Nehru continued well, till the death of Jawaharlal Nehru. Thereafter, the relationship continued with Mrs.Indira Gandhi. Although, Mrs.Bandaranayake had the distinction of being the World’s first Women Prime Minister, she saw her power fading away at home. So there was a necessity to rejuvenate, which was accomplished by ceding Katchatheevu Island to Sri Lanka. While, Mrs. Indira Gandhi weighed the family relationship more, she failed to realize the trouble ahead for the Tamil Indian Fishermen. In the end, Katchatheevu Island was ceded to satisfy personal desires.

“Katchatheevu was the most typical case of a personal equation playing the role of diplomacy. When the negotiations had virtually failed, and the Indian official delegation was pressurizing Indra Gandhi not to give up India’s claim on the islet, Srimavo Bandaranaika made a personal appeal to Indira Gandhi to come to her rescue as it would otherwise spell political disaster for her. Indira Gandhi appreciated Mrs. Srimao Bandaranaike’s predicament and manipulated the situation in such a way that it became a fait accompli even before the Indian delegation could react. Srimavo Bandaranaike remembered this gesture as late as 1990 with immense gratitude.
Prof. Partha Gosh in his book ” Ethnicity versus Nationalism.

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