The persistent allegations against the Sri Lanka Navy in regard to alleged killing and harassment of Indian fishermen are erroneous, and without any factual basis, the Sri Lankan government’s Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday.

The statement comes in the wake of 56 Indian fishermen being arrested, on Friday and Saturday, for illegal fishing in Sri Lankan waters.

On Friday, as many as 26 Indian fishermen were apprehended off Kovilam Point; while, on Saturday, a total of 30 fishermen from India were arrested north of Talaimannar. The 30 fishermen, from Rameswaram, have been remanded till April 18, Indian Consul-General in Jaffna V. Mahalingam told The Hindu.

Currently, the total number of Indian fishermen arrested and detained in Sri Lanka is 75, including 19 fishermen, who were arrested on March 13.

According to the statement, the Sri Lanka Navy has been given strict orders to treat all Tamil Nadu fishermen, who cross regularly into Sri Lanka waters, in a humane manner. “At the same time, Sri Lanka has continually and emphatically impressed upon Indian authorities the compelling need to take appropriate action regarding the very large number of fishing boats daily entering Sri Lanka’s territorial waters and exploiting fisheries resources, causing grave damage to the livelihoods of fishing communities in the North of Sri Lanka,” it said.

The statement said allegations levelled against the Sri Lankan government, its leaders and security forces were based on “hearsay, misinformation, misperceptions and ethno-nationalistic ideologies”.

Reiterating its commitment to harmony, the Sri Lankan government has said that it would like to invite those making unfounded and exaggerated allegations; as well as unrealistic demands as solutions to Sri Lanka’s future to visit the country. Such a visit would help ascertain the progress on the ground, the statement said.