Finance Minister P.Chidambaram on Wednesday described Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's charge that the Indian Government is planning to hand over the Sir Creek area to Pakistan during Interior Minister Rehman Malik's visit to India later this week as a ridiculous suggestion.
Responding to a media query made during a visit here ahead of the first phase of the Gujarat state assembly elections on Thursday, that Modi had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue, and raised objections to the reported news of a possible handover, Chidambaram said: "I don't know about the letter. For anyone who says that the Centre is planning to give Sir Creek to Pakistan, then we say, it is a ridiculous suggestion."
He further added: "It is a ridiculous suggestion. Nobody is giving away Sir Creek to Pakistan. But I don't know anything about the letter."
Earlier, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) also rejected Modi's claim that the Indian Government is planning and is likely to hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan.
Responding to Modi's charge, the PMO tweeted that it was "untrue".
"It also seems that Shri Modi has written his letter without making any efforts to
ascertain the facts from the Government of India," the PMO tweet added.
The PMO further added that other conclusions drawn by Modi from this alleged fact are also not real and the contents of the letter and the timing of its release to the public, raise questions about the motives behind its issue.
"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.
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 being handed over to Pakistan. Any attempt to hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan would be a strategic blunder considering the history and sensitivity of the region," Modi has written in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"I would earnestly request you to stop this dialogue with Pakistan at once and Sir Creek should not be handed over to Pakistan," Modi further wrote in the letter.
"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 while giving details of the letter at a press conference here.
"I am writing to you at this juncture as I was told that a decision is being taken on Sir Creek issue on December 15," Modi said in the letter ahead of Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik's visit India from December 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 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.
"Handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan will endanger our energy security as Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat has vast potential of oil and gas both off shore and onshore," 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," Modi said.
"I would request you to stop taking any decision on this crucial issue on December 15th. After the elections are over in Gujarat, I shall seek your time to discuss this issue with you," Modi said in the letter. (ANI with inputs)