‘Katchatheevu needs a political settlement’

The Katchatheevu row requires only a political settlement, as there is nothing to be sorted out legally between India and Sri Lanka, according to a senior legal expert, Nirmala Chandrahasan.

Ms. Chandrahasan, now a consultant to the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) of the Sri Lanka government, told a high-profile seminar on the India-Sri Lanka relationship here on Thursday that the Indian government did not consider Katchatheevu a “disputed territory” and it had recognised the islet as a part of Sri Lanka. As there was no legal dispute on this issue, the question of taking the matter to international courts did not arise.

Calling for greater engagement with Tamil Nadu, she proposed exploitation of marine resources jointly. Only a few days ago, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa reiterated her position, in her memorandum to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the “unconstitutional ceding” of the Katchatheevu islet by India to Sri Lanka. Reacting to the development, Rajitha Senaratne, Cabinet spokesperson of the Sri Lanka government, called the issue a “settled matter.”

On the problem between fishermen between Tamil Nadu in India and Northern Province in Sri Lanka, Y.K. Sinha, India’s High Commissioner, called for treating the matter in a humanitarian manner and said the Indian government was providing financial assistance to Indian fishermen to migrate to deep sea fishing, but “this is a process that will take sometime.”

During the proposed visit by Sri Lanka’s Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera to India later this year, solutions to the “vexatious issue” would be discussed, Mr. Sinha hoped.

Legal expert says

the question of

taking the matter to international courts does not arise