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Mukul Rohatgi Says Island No Exchange Of Territory, Was Given to Sri Lanka

Mukul Rohatgi Says Island No Exchange Of Territory, Was Given to Sri Lanka



New Delhi:

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, amid the huge row about Lankan island Katchatheevu, has said what makes the case of different is that there was no give and take, which is the normal practice when territory is involved. India had given away the island to Sri Lanka, without getting anything in return, he underscored in an exclusive interview with NDTV today.

The tiny island near Rameswaram has become a political talking point over the weekend, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging the issue at a rally in Meerut and also on social media, hitting out at the Congress.

Katchatheevu — a disputed area since the British period — was given to Sri Lanka by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1974 under an agreement with the island nation.

It had upset Tamil sentiments and resurfaced on the eve of the general elections. Amid BJP efforts to gain political traction in Tamil Nadu, state BJP chief K Annamalai had filed an RTI query.

In 2014, Mr Rohatgi, who was then the Attorney General, had told the Supreme Court that to retrieve Katchatheevu, “we have to go to war”. Asked about that statement today, he gave a background.

“Normally we have territorial exchanges. We had exchanges with Pakistan in the past… in 1958-1960 we had some exchanges with Pakistan. Because that was an aftermath of Independence and it was understandable,” Mr Rohatgi told NDTV.

“I remember some years ago, the current government also had some exchanges with Bangladesh. It was some enclaves. Some give and take of territory can happen but in this case it was only give… The island was handed over to Sri Lanka. Why the island was handed over, what did we get in return, these are questions the Congress should answer,” he added.

His remarks also address Opposition questions on why the government has not taken action on the issue since coming to power in 2014.  

Yesterday, Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK commented that if PM Modi was keen on Katchatheevu, he could have reclaimed that island during his 10 years in office. “Why did not he take up the Katchatheevu issue?” senior party leader RS Bharathi has said.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge had pointed out that the BJP-led government had made a similar “friendly gesture” to Bangladesh regarding the exchange of border enclaves.



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