The dockyard being built at Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) by India is going to be used to dock and repair Indian naval vessels and to pave the way for a permanent stationing of the Indian military within Maldivian borders, said former Home Minister Umar Naseer.
In a statement he published on Facebook with regard to the agreement signed by the Maldivian government with India to develop UTF on an Indian loan, Naseer said that the project would make way for the permanent stationing of Indian military personnel and vessels.
He further said that defense ties with foreign powers should be established in such a way that those ties do not jeopardize Maldivian sovereignty. He added that as the Maldives’ strategic location made it the “gatekeeper” of the Indian Ocean, regional and international interests should also be taken into account.
Naseer said that Indian military personnel have been stationed in three other locations of the Maldives under different pretexts. He named Addu, L. Kaddhoo, H.Dh. Hanimaadhoo as locations where the Indian military “and their vessels” were present.
Stating that the Maldives was slowly losing its independence and sovereignty, Naseer said he would remove all Indian military personnel from the country if he were president.
The Maldives and India signed an agreement regarding UTF today which permits the stationing of Indian military personnel in that location. The government has claimed that it was not the Indian military but rather “technicians” who would be present there. The MNDF was unable to answer when asked about the organization to which these Indian “technicians” belonged.