| by Sripali Vaiamon

“…to put an end to the brutal, unprovoked attacks on and abduction of our fishermen by the marauding Sri Lanka Navy….” Judging by overheated marauding words of infuriated political personality of the ongoing dispute I personally feel, for the satisfaction of both parties, an intervention by a strong politician of the caliber of Hon.Narendra Modi should be acceptable to both parties but of course he should have enough time to study the whole implication although he is laden with inexhaustible amount of work in the new government. Nevertheless, he is a workaholic and an introvert as characterized by analysts. So he will find time as he evinces a genuine interest to bring about a reasonable settlement within the stipulated legal set up.

The words uttered by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu were typical imagination of a female politician but never would have uttered such malicious terms by a male counterpart against naval officers who carry out superiors’ orders within the ambit of law. If Indian Prime Minister looks into this problem critically, where either parties are committing an illegal act by poaching and harvesting fish in illegal waters is definitely a grave offence. This is the only dispute prevails as far as I can see. It is not only the destruction inflicted to the Sri Lankan sea bed but ruining the coral reefs, plant life and other resources. Their poaching in the illegal waters and catching big hauls of fish has inflicted great losses that run into millions. The gravity of the offence is multifarious to the Island of Sri Lanka much bigger than what LTTE had caused to the island perhaps during the past 26 years. They do the bottom trawling which has been banned in Sri Lanka ..."

( June 14, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A Tamil lawyer by the name, C.V. Vivekanathan contributing an article recently to the web site paper of the Daily Mirror, a leading News Paper in Sri Lanka, concluded the article with these final words– The Constitutional and Leagel efficacy of the Agreement of 1974, (signed by the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Sri Lanka Prime Minister Srimao Bandaranaike reference to the islet of Kachchathivue and the MBL) and reached its completeness in terms of dualist theory of both countries. The agreement cannot be now cancelled under any circumstances of whatsoever or howsoever.

If that could be treated as the final words relevant to the Islet, the dispute is simple although a lady is involved.It is not so deep and unsolvable. Because there is no dispute over the Island. But in between there are some vague political orders; such as former President Abdul Kalam had issued an order to say Indian fishermen could cross the MBL and do fishing in SL waters for three days a week and SL fishermen cross the border and fishing in Indian waters for three days. Indian fishermen could visit Kachcativue for religious purposes as there is St Antony Church and at the same time could dry their nets, but fishing is of course not allowed. As these orders are vague and flimsy poor fishermen of both sides are subject to constant harassment. This should come to an end as Tamil Nadu chief Minister is reiterating this in uncontrollable anger. Hon. Indian Prime Minister could handle this without much difficulty and issue a fair and firm notification to both countries although Sri Lanka is a separate sovereignty.

This had been settled sometimes back as far as I could remember as a media officer, but during the Terrorist war it had been disrupted.

Now let us look into the dispute clearly where a repetition of an urgent settlement is sine qua non and conspicuous! Because this was completely settled in 1974 by two brilliant politicians. Both were Prime Ministers. Presently this has raised again by our movie personality. May be because she is imbibed with female ingenuity particularly relations to the terms she used normally comes out only with hate politician but not from a brilliant actor entwined to art. I like her very much as a movie personality rather than a politician where I have well described briefly in an article to “Sri Lanka guardian”Oct.2.2012, under the heading “Hate politics of Jayaram JayaLalitha.”

Tamil Nadu citizens treat Jayalalitha as a mother,AMMA.She is also was a Puratchi Thalavi.Her movies highly admired not only Tamil Nadu citizens but Sri Lankan movie goers. From her debut, Vennira Aadai to her last movie Nadiya Thedi Vanda Kodai in 1980 was equally popular. She won several awards for films and acting. Sri Lankan Tamils had a very high regard for her acting. Even I liked her as a talented movie personality. Now she may have lost that capability and artistic mentality.

Now let’s explore the subject where professional and political solution is expected from the Indian Prime minister, Hon. Narendra Modi. I’ll quote from other expert sources with their curtsey, the views they have expressed.

Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Mr. W.T.Jayasinghe, who was directly involved in this issue, had published a book under the title, “Kachchativue and Maritime Boundary of Sri Lanka .”

This book is a study of the problems posed on the Islet of Kachchathivue which would have become a critical issue for India and Sri Lanka, but this did not happen as it was resolved peacefully by the two countries through diplomacy and negotiations. Author of the publication was a key figure in the administration of his time where he served as the Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served so cleverly under Srimao Bandaranaike at the height of her fame. When she visited New Delhi in june 1974, this subject of Kachchativue was discussed with Indian Prime Minister, Mrs.Indhira Gandhi, at several meetings. This culminated in the official and summit level discussions where Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over it was affirmed. The successful outcome of the discussions reached as Kachchativue represented a landmark in relation between Sri Lanka and India and how Sri Lanka’s Boundary was negotiated between Indian Central Govt. and was fully aware of the background which led to the ceding of Kachchativue to Sri Lankan Government in 1974.It was signed on 26th of June in Sri Lanka and 28th of June in India.

Kachcativue is a diminutive island but its significance arose from its location that claim to the effect in an areas of vital strategies. It was well realized during the LTTE terrorist war which they utilized to transport illegal weapons. It is now a barren land with a small church devoted to St Antony.Fishermen used to go there for obeisance particularly during the festival and other days. According to the agreement fishermen were allowed to dry their nets and they could visit without visa as such but they were not permitted to poach and do fishing within the boundary line of Sri Lanka.Navy personnel who are directed to raid if they poach and do illegal fishing in the territorial waters and take them into custody. They carry out their duty. They are not marauders as alleged and committed no brutal attacks but legally take them into custody as they were committing and illegal offence. Indian naval officers do the same thing. But Sri Lankan fishermen do it in a small scale unlike Indian fishermen who come in hundreds in huge trawlers may be with a push of the Tamil Nadu authorities.

Kachchativue was part of Sri Lanka even before the Agreement of 1974- This was the heading given for legal and historical aspects of the Kachchativue ,in a comprehensive article by C.V.Vivekanathan,a Tamil lawyer and wish to extract a few paras for the sake of our readers with the curtsey of the author and the Daily Mirror web site paper where it has published.

…..Prime Minister India Gandhi agreed after lengthy discussion and withdrew their claim to Kachachativue and acknowledged the Sovereignty of Sri Lanka over Kachchativue.
Sri Lanka Sovereignty over Kachchativue is not only based on the Agreement of 1974 and 1976 but also on historical documents ,by effective occupation and user legalization for Kachchativue and publication of the Act of Sovereignty over Kachchativue without protest by India.

At the conference, Portuguese and Dutch records and maps sharing Kachchativue as part of the kingdom of Jaffna and cartographic evidence showing as part of Sri Lanka tended as proof.

In 1615 The East India Company well elaborated jurisdiction over Kachchativue as belonging to the kingdom of Jaffna.
There is a Delimitation Treaty signed along with the aforesaid Agreement where the Maritime Boundary Line had been executed by the surveyors of both sides which were subject to ratification and they may have done it subsequently. Statistics, demarcation and eight clauses with rulings have been stipulated in the Delimitation Treaty.

As the Maritime Boundary Line is fixed present Indian Prime Minister could settle it without prejudice. He could indicate that no Sri Lankan fishermen could cross the MBL and do fishing in Indian waters and similarly no Indian counterparts enter the Sri Lanka waters for fishing purposes. However Indian fisher folks would be allowed to visit Kachchativue Island for religious purposes or even to dry nets without obtaining any visas.

This is the possible solution according to my layman opinion could be envisaged.

Alas! Now, have a glance at this comment made by Indian fishermen, when Mr.Karunanidi referred the matter to the union Minister, Mr.V.Nagaswamy and when he questioned the Indian fisherman this is what he has uttered. “They had been fishing in Indian waters for the last two months, resulting in a decline of fish. They told him they are being attacked while processing the areas with larger resources and ask for fishing rights in Sri Lanka areas during specific months.( This is up to robbery!) If anybody compares this with the marauding allegation with indignantly alleged by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu what can you judge! It was nothing but she wanted to plunder a small country of 25,322 sq mls land area with the sea shores. Is it justifiable to rob another small country’s wealth with massive trawlers and scrap from the bottom of the sea of Sri Lanka’s wealth without an iota of shame or respect to common justice? Although she is more closer to Indian Prime Minister than an outsider. Mr.Modi is an intellectual he could easily realize when a cunning female approach with tears as she is ignorant of the age-old case. He will scrutinize carefully and do the justice. He may not allow anybody from any other country to become a nasty robber and plunder the wealth of another small country. Let us wait and see his advice and his judgment!