AIADMK calls for Centre’s intervention in Katchatheevu festival issue

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AIADMK Coordinator and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam has written to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to intervene in the issue of the participation of Indian devotees at St. Anthony’s church in Sri Lanka’s Katchatheevu.

Panneerselvam on Saturday said that according to reports, the festival is to be held on March 11 and 12, and the Sri Lankan Government has decided to conduct the festival without the participation of the devotees, which includes fishermen from both India (Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka.

He said that the Sri Lankan government had cited several reasons, including security and the Covid pandemic to conduct the festival without the participation of devotees from Tamil Nadu.

In the letter, the former Chief Minister mentioned that fishermen from the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu have traditionally undertaken a pilgrimage to St. Anthony’s Church, Katchatheevu in the past and requested Jaishankar to immediately sort out the matter.

Paneerselvam said that this has caused great frustration among the devotees of the coastal areas of the state.

Katchatheevu has been a contentious issue with the Sri Lankan Navy arresting fishermen from Tamil Nadu for crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) near the Katchatheevu island. Several Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu were arrested and many were lodged in jails with their vessels compounded by the Sri Lankan authorities.

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