New Delhi/Ahmedabad, Dec 12: The prime minister's office (PMO) on Wednesday rejected Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's claim that the Indian government is planning to hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan. Responding to Modi's charge, the PMO tweeted that it was "untrue".
Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked the prime minister to stop dialogue with Pakistan at once on the Sir Creek issue and demanded that it should not be handed over to the neighbouring nation. "I am writing on a serious issue of talks being held on Sir Creek. Any attempt to hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan would be a strategic blunder," Modi has written in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In Ahmedabad, Union finance minister P Chidambaram also reacted strongly to Modi's claim, calling it "ridiculous". He said, "How can one imagine doing this." He even suggested that Modi had written no such letter.
On the mirco-blogging site, the PMO's official twitter handle questioned the timing of the letter. "The contents of the letter and the timing of its release to the public, raise questions about the motives behind its issue. It also seems that Shri Modi has written his letter without making any efforts to ascertain the facts from the Government of India."
"The writing and release of this baseless letter by the CM of Gujarat in his 'personal' capacity, a day before elections, is mischievous," said the PMO tweet.
"Due to the election code of conduct, Modi wrote the letter as a concerned citizen and not as a chief minister of a state," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman said in Ahmedabad while giving details of the letter at a press conference.
"I am writing to you at this juncture as I was told that a decision is being taken on Sir Creek issue on Dec 15," Modi said in the letter ahead of Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik's visit to India from Dec 14-16.
"Sir Creek has been settled 100 years back between rulers of Kutch and Sindh. Even the tribunal verdict in 1968 headed by the then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson shows Pakistan getting only 10% of its claim of 9,000 sq kms of this border area," Modi further mentioned.
"Handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan will totally open up Gujarat border with Pakistan. I was given to understand that recently Pakistan carried out a joint operation of their army, airforce and navy code named Sea-spark-12, almost one month ago very near to Sir Creek," Modi said.
Sitaraman said BJP, as a party, supports the view of Modi on the issue. However, she evaded a question on how Modi came to know that the central government was planning to hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan.
Sir Creek is marshy water body along the India-Pakistan border, which is disputed and the two countries are bilaterally discussing the issue for quite a long time.
"Handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan will give them more control over the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the sea. This will be a permanent threat to fishermen of Saurashtra and Kutch area and also to the vital installations and major industrial installations like refineries and ports," Modi said.
Modi further said in the letter, "At no point in the entire process has the Government of Gujarat been consulted. In a similar case of Teesta agreement with Bangladesh, West Bengal chief minister was consulted and the agreement was cancelled."