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Take steps to retrieve Katchatheevu, Jayalalithaa tells PM

Take steps to retrieve Katchatheevu, Jayalalithaa tells PM

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take steps to retrieve Katchatheevu and surrounding areas from Sri Lanka.

In her letter to Manmohan Singh, she also urged him to redraw the Indian Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) so that Indian fishermen could fish in their traditional waters.

Jayalalithaa cited the continued attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan forces. "I request you once again to kindly take urgent measures to get back Katchatheevu and the surrounding areas from Sri Lanka."

The letter was written Monday and released to the media Tuesday.

"Further, the IMBL needs to be redrawn after the retrieval of Katchatheevu, which will enable our fishermen to carry on fishing in their traditional fishing waters without concerns of safety and security."

Jayalalithaa said the 1974 agreement between India and Sri Lanka had determined Katchatheevu as a part of Sri Lanka, and the islet was ceded by India unilaterally without obtaining the approval of parliament for a constitutional amendment in this regard.

"The stand of the government of Tamil Nadu is that Katchatheevu has always been a part of India, geographically, culturally and historically, and needs to be retrieved back, keeping in view the livelihood interests and security of thousands of Indian fishermen," Jayalalithaa said.

Concerned at the safety and security of the Indian fishermen, the Tamil Nadu assembly, she said, had "unanimously passed a resolution (in May) stating that, in view of the legal invalidity of the 1974 and 1976 agreements, India should take steps to retrieve back Katchatheevu and its surrounding areas."

Katchatheevu island is located in the narrow sea dividing the two countries. The sea near the islet is said to be rich in marine life, leading to frequent clashes between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen.

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