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'Belligerent statements on Katchatheevu will bring Lankan govt, Tamils into confrontation'

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New Delhi, Apr 2 (PTI) Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram cautioned the BJP-led Centre over the Katchatheevu issue on Tuesday, saying any "untruthful and belligerent" statement on the island after 50 years will bring the Sri Lankan government and 35 lakh Tamils into confrontation.

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Chidambaram said before External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and others make statements straining the relations between India and Sri Lanka, let them remember that there are 25 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils and 10 lakh Indian Tamils living in the island nation.

"Any untruthful and belligerent statement on Katchatheevu after 50 years will bring the Sri Lankan government and the 35 lakh Tamils into confrontation," he said in a post on X.

Let the Centre show its belligerence to China, the former Union minister said and claimed that during the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government's regime, the neighbouring country has occupied 2,000 square kilometres of Indian territory and is fortifying the area.

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"China is on a re-naming spree and is merrily changing the names of villages and landmarks. Why is the Foreign Minister subdued in his response to the actions of China?" Chidambaram asked on the microblogging platform.

Hitting back at the Centre over the Katchatheevu island issue, opposition leaders on Monday cited a 2015 RTI reply, which stated that agreements in 1974 and 1976 did not involve either acquiring or ceding territory belonging to India, and asked whether the "change" in the Narendra Modi government's stance is for "election politics".

The opposition's response came after Jaishankar claimed on Monday that former prime ministers of the Congress displayed indifference to the Katchatheevu island and gave away the Indian fishermen's rights despite legal views to the contrary.

Jaishankar's remarks at a press conference were made a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi cited a media report to assert that new facts reveal that the Congress "callously" gave away the island to Sri Lanka. PTI ASK RC

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