France has spoken to India on alleged reports about altering the Union territory status of Puducherry, saying it was a matter of concern because some of its nationals were still living in the former French colony.
The French raised the matter with the external affairs ministry after they reportedly came to know through some legislators about plans to “alter” the status of Puducherry.
The move has triggered a flurry in South Block, because the usual practice of consulting the ministry before legislators reach out to foreign missions or governments was not followed in this case.
Adding to the government’s discomfort, the Indian mission in Paris reported after a probe that it could not get details of who had conveyed this information to the French.
The external affairs ministry then took up the matter with the joint secretary dealing with Union Territories in the home ministry, who said the Centre did not have any such plans.
“Our understanding is that the government doesn’t have any such proposal before it now. That has been made known to the French, though it (altering status of an area for administrative purpose) is a matter dealing entirely with the sovereignty of the independent country,” said a government official.
The French embassy in New Delhi refused to comment. But sources there said they had “learnt” about such a move some time ago, and raised the matter with New Delhi.
Puducherry was transferred to India on November 1, 1954. A treaty of cessation (together with Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam) was signed on May 28, 1956. A few French families still live in Puducherry and France has a consulate there as well.
“There is a demand for statehood of Puducherry, and the assembly has passed unanimous resolutions for this. But that has nothing to do with France. Rather, why should it be?” E. Valsaraj, the Puducherry home minister, told HT.