China`s intentions being closely monitored: India

India Tuesday said China has been showing "more than the normal interest" in the Indian Ocean affairs and its "intentions" are being closely monitored.

Updated: Aug 31, 2010, 16:05 PM IST

New Delhi: India Tuesday said China has been
showing "more than the normal interest" in the Indian Ocean
affairs and its "intentions" are being closely monitored.

"The Government of India has come to realise that China
has been showing more than the normal interest in the Indian
Ocean affairs. So we are closely monitoring the Chinese
intentions", External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said in the
Lok Sabha.

"We are closely monitoring the developments in the Indian
Ocean," he said and assured the House that "appropriate action
and measures" would be taken to safeguard India`s territorial
integrity and the welfare of its fishermen.

Though he did not elaborate on the growing Chinese
interests but was clearly referring to increasing engagement
of China in projects in Sri Lanka and other countries in the
Indian Ocean.

The statement, in response to a Calling Attention Motion
on recent attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, came
amid concerns here over reports that China had deployed around
11,000 of its troops in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Jammu and
Kashmir which is under Pakistani occupation.

Earlier, TR Baalu (DMK), while moving the Motion, said
that when an Indo-Sri Lanka agreement was signed on
Katchathivu Islands in 1974, the then external affairs
minister Swaran Singh had said the rights of fishing and
navigation have been safeguarded for future.

Under the agreement on Katchathivu island which falls in
Sri Lankan territory, Indian fishermen can rest and dry their
nets during fishing in international waters.

Baalu claimed that in 1976, things changed on the Indian
fishermen`s rights when secretaries of India and Sri Lanka
exchanged two sets of letters. "The letters became part and
parcel of the agreement without taking Parliament and the
state government into confidence...it is a blow to the
fishermen," he said.

The DMK member asked the Centre to revisit the agreement
on Katchathivu island and increase patrolling in the waters to
protect Indian fishermen from the onslaught of Sri Lankan
Navy.

Krishna, however, ruled out revisiting of the pact, saying
"we cannot go back on the solemn agreement between two
governments."

Sri Lanka is a friendly country, an aspect that is needed
to be kept in mind, he said adding that Foreign Secretary
Nirupama Rao was currently in Colombo, discussing such
matters.

He said he was planning to travel to Colombo in October
when issues related to fishermen would be discussed further.

Dissatisfied over Krishna`s reply, AIADMK members led by M
Thambidurai staged a walkout, while Baalu continued to raise
several other questions even as the Speaker moved over to the
Zero Hour.

PTI