Rahul Gandhi’s allegations in Parliament, Prime Minister Modi attempted to corner the Congress party by referring to Kachchativu, a small island between Rameswaram in India and the mainland of Sri Lanka. The opposition party, led by Prime Minister Modi, accused the Congress party of disintegrating Mother India. Modi argued that the island was given to another country and that it was under the leadership of Indira Gandhi.
Kachchhtivu, located in the Palk Strait, is 12 miles from Rameshwaram in India and 10.5 miles from Nedundi in Jaffna. Its area is about 285 acres and has a maximum width of 300 meters. The island is also home to St. Antony’s Church, which is worshipped every February-March for a week. The island was occupied by the British during World War II.
Kachchativu connects the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea and is a dispute between India and Sri Lanka. India claimed it until 1976 when it was under Sri Lanka. Between 1974 and 1976, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed four maritime boundary agreements with Sri Lankan President Srimava Bandaranaike, which led to Kachchatheevu going under Sri Lanka. However, the Tamil Nadu government refused to accept this agreement and demanded that Kachchatheevu be taken back from Sri Lanka.
In 1991, a resolution was passed in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, reiterating the demand for Kachchatheevu to be included back in India. The tussle between Tamil Nadu and the Central government over Kachchatheevu was not limited to assembly resolutions. In 2008, then-chief minister Jayalalithaa dragged the central government to the Supreme Court over Kachchatheevu, demanding the nullification of the Kachchatheevu Agreement.
The Jayalalithaa government also asked the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the two agreements between Sri Lanka and India that gifted Kachchatheevu. Kachchatheevu was a part of India until 1974 and came under the zamindari of the Raja of Ramanathapuram, who took control of the island in 1902. The island was also included in the calculation of the offering (rent) paid by the king of Ramanathapuram in the form of Malgujari.
The Raja of Ramanathapuram had leased the fish right, graze, and use the island for dye manufacturing. In 1913, an agreement was signed between the Raja of Ramanathapuram and the Secretary of State to the Government of India, including the name of Kachchatheevu. The British government recognized Kachchatheevu as part of India but did not consider it a part of Sri Lanka.