The Maldives Journal has obtained a copy of the agreement signed between the government of Maldives and the government of Maldives to operate an Indian navy aircraft in the Maldives.
Since 29th September 2020, an Indian Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft has been operating in the Maldives. It is based in the island of Hanimadhoo in northern Maldives. Defence Minister Mariya Didi signed the agreement on behalf of Maldives and it was signed on 10th June 2020. TMJ has received a copy of the original agreement, draft agreements proposed by India and communication between the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives Sanjay Sudheer and Defence Minister Mariya Didi.
The agreement has many clauses which undermine the sovereignty of Maldives. TMJ will bring more details of the agreement in the next few days.
Early this year Dhiyares the sister newspaper of TMJ, requested the Defence Ministry of Maldives to disclose the agreement under the right to information act. However, Defence Ministry refused to disclose the agreement. Dhiyares then appealed the case at the Information Commissioner's Office. After multiple hearings, the Information Commissioner decided that disclosing the agreement is not in the best interest of Maldives. The commissioner also stated that if the agreement is revealed it might hinder India-Maldives relations.
The Dornier was brought to the Maldives on 29th September 2020. Back then the government claimed that it was a gift from India and it was the previous administration that requested for the aircraft. The defence ministry even stated that the Dornier agreement was signed by the previous administration. However, the agreement obtained by TMJ shows that it was signed by the current defence minister Mariya Didi.
In 2016, the government of India offered the government of Maldives to operate an Indian navy crat in the Maldives. However, President Yameen refused to sign the agreement and instead requested an aircraft that would be manned by Maldivian pilots. He also asked India to take back the helicopters operated by India in the Maldives.