Minister of Defence, Mariya Didi, has lied that the Indian-operated Dornier aircraft and helicopters operate only under the command of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
As per the agreements signed between the Maldives and India which allow for the Indian military’s operation of these crafts within Maldivian borders: the highest commanding authority over all these crafts is the sitting Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives.
Utilising any of these crafts requires the permission of the Indian High Commissioner. The MNDF have no authority to use any of the crafts without the High Commissioner’s permission.
The MNDF have been blocked from using these crafts on several occasions given that they had not been permitted to do so by the Indian High Commissioner. The helicopters had not been used during the worst days of the Covid-19 pandemic for this reason.
The Defence Minister has worked extensively to characterise Indian military presence in the Maldives in a positive light. Prior to her appointment to her current post, Minister Mariya had described the servicepeople of the Maldivian defence forces as cowards.