The construction of the Indian military base in the Maldives has officially begun, with work commencing last week during Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to the island nation. The base, which is being built on the island of Uthuruthilafalhu near the Maldivian capital of Male', is part of an agreement signed between the Maldivian Defense Ministry and India in 2021.
Under the terms of the agreement, India is to develop and manage a dockyard and harbor in Uthuruthilafalhu for a period of 30 years. Despite being referred to as a harbor and dockyard, the facility has all the features of a military base, leading to concerns about the Maldives' sovereignty. The agreement also allows Indian soldiers to carry firearms on the island.
A leaked draft of the agreement reveals that the facilities will be managed by a joint committee, consisting of equal representation from both the Indian and Maldivian militaries. The Maldivian government has been secretive about the details of the agreement, which has not been disclosed to the nation's parliament. The Information Commissioner has ordered the Defense Ministry to reveal some details of the agreement, but they have not complied with this order.
Currently, Indian soldiers are stationed across various locations in the Maldives, sparking calls for their removal as it is believed to undermine Maldivian sovereignty. The construction of the military base has only heightened these concerns, with many questioning the long-term implications of the agreement for the nation's independence and security.