BJP threatens to hoist national flag at Katchathee

Rameswaram (TN): BJP on Sunday said it would launch an agitation at Katchatheevu Island in the Palk Straits and hoist the national flag there, if the Centre failed to protect the lives of Tamil Nadu fishermen.

Claiming that six fishermen had died in alleged attacks by the Lankan Navy this year, Tamil Nadu unit President Pon Radhakrishnan said the fishermens' problems would be solved if BJP returns to power.

He was addressing party workers during BJP's 'sea picketing agitation' at Rameswaram fishing jetty, demanding protection for fishermen from attacks allegedly by the Lankan Navy.

The party activists led by Radhakrishnan tried to enter the sea by breaking the cordon but police foiled their attempt, leading to an altercation between the two groups.

Ramanathapuram Superintendent of Police Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar pacified the agitating BJP men and brought the situation under control.

BJP All India Secretary K Muralidhar Rao later told reporters that senior BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj would travel to Sri Lanka next month to meet Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse over the alleged attacks on Indian fishermen by the Lankan Navy.

The Congress-led UPA Government should provide safety and security to the fishermen from the "indiscriminate attacks" by the Sri Lankan Navy, Rao said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Home Minister P Chidambaram had "clearly failed" in their duties to protect the interests of the Indian fishermen, he said.

Adding that BJP opposed ceding of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka, he demanded that government restore the fishing rights of Indian fishermen in the region. Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974.