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Karuna writes to PM on Lanka's reported move on military base

Source: PTI
June 17, 2009 00:35 IST
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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Tuesday said India should verify reports about Sri Lanka's proposed intention to set up a military base in Katchatheevu, saying "the unilateral action" was a great cause of concern for fishermen and the state government.

Katchatheevu is an islet ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974. In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he cited Tamil newspaper reports about Sri Lankan navy's intention to set up a watch tower and a military base and said, "It should be verified by the Government of India with its agencies."

Incidents of harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy continues unabated despite repeated requests by the state government and assurance given by Sri Lankan authorities to India, Karunanidhi, whose Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is a key partner of the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, alleged.

This issue has been seized by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and some other political parties to demand the retrieval of the island.

Karunanidhi said that after the annual ban imposed by the state government on mechanised fishing boats and trawlers ended on May 29 last, fishermen put out to the sea off Rameswaram hoping to conduct fishing "in a peaceful manner" with the political situation in Sri Lanka having undergone a change.

"To their shock, the Sri Lankan navy continued its tirade against the poor fishermen by damaging their boats, seizing the fish catches and harassing and intimidating them in mid sea," he said in the letter, a copy of which was released to the media in Chennai on Tuesday night.

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