Thursday 20th Jun 2024
Dhivehi Edition
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Sovereignty

India Disrespects Maldivian Borders by Entering SEZ

Yesterday, Indian army vessels entered the Maldives Special Economic Zone (SEZ), boarded Maldivian fishing boats and threatened the crew. India has openly shown that it does not respect the privileges and rights of Maldives under international law.
For Maldivian fishermen, the fear of a foreign power in Maldivian waters is a problem. It is also a problem that India has not acknowledged that the incident occurred. So far, India has not said whether it knows what happened yesterday, nor why such an incident occurred.
Lies About the Northern Section of the SEZ
With yesterday's incident, some people have come out in defense of India. Some spoke of the sea area in the north of Maldives, stating that the SEZ was only 30 miles long in the north and the Indian troops boarded the Asuruma-3 when it entered Indian waters.
However, the Maldivian Special Economic Zone extends up to 115 miles to the north. The Asuruma-3 was about 75 miles north when the Indian troops boarded the boat with weapons. This means that the boat was within the boundaries of the SEZ.
Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Ahmed Shiyam said in a post published in X yesterday that the vessel monitoring system installed in the ministry also showed that the Asuruma-3 boat was operating within the boundaries of Maldives exclusive economic zone.
The Result of Humiliating Modi
There are always politicians in Maldives who would speak in defense of India's interests rather than their own country. Former President Mohamed Nasheed posted on his unofficial account on X, that with allowing Chinese spy ships to enter Maldivian waters, it is the choice of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to say and do as he pleases.
The question is, is Maldives practicing its sovereign rights a silence for India to enter Maldives’ territory and deal with Maldivians as it pleases? Maldives and India have equal sovereignty under international law. Maldives’ territory must be respected by India and other states.
President Nasheed’s remarks are also being echoed in secret by some other political leaders in the country. There are many "leaders" in the political scene of Maldives who will say that India has done the right thing in hushed tones where the people cannot hear them.
Strengthen Area Management and Increase the Capacity of the MNDF
Maldives sea area is large. Maintaining the area is a big job. The work is still being done with the help of Maldivian fishermen. For the past five years, Maldives has been heavily dependent on India for territorial management. As a result, no major efforts have been made to improve the capabilities of the Maldivian Army.
According to the information received from the army officials, the army vehicles were not repaired and could not be used. The previous administration acquitted themselves of the responsibility of maintaining the North Sea and protecting their sovereignty and accepted that India would do it.
However, we must recognize that we must take care of our marine area. Maldives should not be reliant on another country for the protection of its sovereign territory, as no other country can be expected to put the interest of the Maldives and its people before its own. For this reason, it is the responsibility of the State to adequately increase the capacity of the institution responsible for defense and security.
The new government, under the leadership of President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, has begun to procure modern equipment for the army. Already, the government has made a deal with Turkey to procure drones for search and rescue, along with border security. Additional resources will also be established in consultation with other countries. This administration must overcome the damage of the past five years of neglect, and make the MNDF self-sufficient in order to maintain Maldivian territory.
India will not respect Maldives
India's incursion into Maldives’ Special Economic Zone yesterday is another step in the series of disrespectful acts committed against Maldives every time a government that does not appease India is established in Maldives. It is not a separate incident without any similar events preceding it.
One of the most glaring examples of India’s disrespect for Maldives’ sovereignty is the fact that Indian troops and the helicopter left in Maldives before June 2018 were not taken back to India when former President Yameen’s administration ordered them to.
At that time, disputes between the Maldivian government and the Indian government resulted in India stopping the issuance of on-arrival visas to Maldivian people. The embassy made it difficult for Maldivians to acquire visas to travel to India as well.
The Solution is Freedom
The only way to escape such insulting actions by India against Maldivians and the Maldivian state is for Maldives to reduce its dependence on the country. The government must find other countries to send for medical treatment and import basic food items from other countries. They must also create close ties with other major regional and international powers.
India will think that the Indian army entered its "backyard" yesterday, and believe that is their right and the action is justified. However, it is the territory of Maldives and the sovereign rights of the Maldives over the territory must be kept in the hands of the people of this country. The Indian state must show respect for the country, whether it is small or large. It is the responsibility of those in charge of the administration of the Maldives to enforce this respect.