After yet another instance of fishermen from Tamil Nadu being arrested by Sri Lanka, its navy in Colombo on Wednesday refuted media reports that it was harassing Indian fisherfolk.
“We have seen reports over the last few days that Sri Lanka Navy was harassing and cruelly treating the Indian fishermen. This is absolutely false. At no time the navy have done this,” Naval spokesman and Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya said.
He said the Sri Lankan Navy was only performing its due functions as a naval force of a sovereign state.
"The Navy discharges is duties in line with internationally accepted norms."
Warnakulasuriya said the navy had not prosecuted anyone arrested for poaching in Sri Lankan waters.
"We have only referred them to the relevant authorities," he said.
Commenting on the frequent arrests of fishermen by both India and Sri Lanka, military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya said that it was an irony that fishermen from Tamil Nadu are leaving their fellow Tamil fishermen from Sri Lanka in the lurch by poaching their fishing resources.
“Those who do fishing in the north are fishermen from the north (Tamils) They are not from the south (Sinhalese)," Wanigasuriya stressed.
In the latest reminder of the festering issue, 11 Indian fishermen fishing in the sea between Katchatheevu and Neduntheevu islands were arrested on Tuesday.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa also again sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personal intervention in securing the release of all fishermen jailed in Sri Lanka.
While these 11 fishermen from Pudukottai along with their boats were arrested in the latest incident, another 53 fishermen and 12 boats, apprehended in two separate incidents on June 18 and 19 "continue to be in Sri Lankan custody," she said in a letter to Modi.