The Sri Lankan navy has denied harassing Tamil Nadu fishermen, as reported by Indian media outlets on Sunday, describing the report as "baseless".
"I strongly denied the Indian media claims that we damage fishing equipment of Tamil Nadu fishermen. It has been identified by both the Indian and local naval authorities that the Southern Indian fishermen enter local waters on each Monday, Wednesday and Friday via Katchatheevu islet. It was our duty to protect the Lankan territorial waters and to prevent any illegal activity in our waters," the navy's deputy media spokesperson, Lieutenant Commander K K C Udayanga told the Daily Mirror.
“It has been a challenge not only to us but to Indian authorities to prevent violation of maritime boundaries by Tamil Nadu fishermen. However, we have given a specific attention on the said days to minimise their entry to Lankan waters."
“We chase them according to the international protocol on such situations and also in the presence of the Indian Coast Guard officers. We do not have authority to cause any damage or harm to fishermen,” he added.
The Hindustan Times on Sunday stated that over 2000 Tamil Nadu fishermen "were chased away by the Sri Lanka Navy and their nets cut off."
“The fishermen from this island town had ventured into the sea in 565 boats on Saturday and were fishing off Katchatheevu when the Sri Lankan naval personnel came to the spot and snapped the fishing nets of 30 boats before driving them away, Rameswaram fishermen Association president S. Emerit alleged,” the report added.