Kachchathivu island is ours, there is no dispute: Sri Lanka

January 7th, 2009 - 4:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 7 (IANS) Claiming that there was “no dispute over Kachchathivu island”, Sri Lanka Wednesday said that the island located in the Palk Strait off Rameshwaram belonged to the island nation according to the 1974-76 bilateral agreement between India and Sri Lanka.Responding to a question with regard to the notice issued by the Indian Supreme Court Monday instructing the Indian government to retrieve Kachchathivu, Sri Lanka’s acting foreign secretary Prasad Kariyawasam said: “It is purely a matter for Indian government to deal with and does not apply to Sri Lanka at all.”

“The sovereignty of Kachchathivu was settled with the 1974-76 bilateral agreement between India and Sri Lanka and accordingly it belongs to Sri Lanka. There is no issue,” Kariyawasam told IANS Wednesday.

The Indian Supreme Court Monday issued notice to India’s central government on a plea of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalitha to retrieve the 285-acre island in the Palk Strait off Rameshwaram from Sri Lanka.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice Markandey Katju and Justice P. Sathasivam issued the notice on the AIADMK chief’s plea that the late Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi had ceded the Kachchathivu island to Sri Lanka in 1974 without suitably amending the Constitution.

“The government of Sri Lanka deals with the government of India and not with its Supreme Court or judiciary. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, there is no dispute over Kachchathivu,” acting foreign secretary Kariyawasam said.

In her lawsuit filed last August, Jayalalitha, a strong critique of the Tamil Tiger rebels, also sought the court’s direction to the government to restore the rights of the fishermen to visit the island with their vessels for fishing and earning their livelihood.

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