Sunday 14th Jul 2024
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Indian military

India Plans Naval Bases in Agatti and Minicoy, Encroaching on Maldivian Territory

A naval base in Minicoy will be inaugurated by the Indian Naval Service in the first week of March. This island is around 70 nautical miles from Thuraakunu, which is the northernmost island of the Maldives.
According to the Hindustan Times, the Indian Defense Minister, Rajnath Singh, will be present at the inauguration. He will be on board the INS Vikramaditya, which will be followed by INS Vikrant. These warships being stationed so close to Maldives has struck a chord among Maldivians.
The opening of these naval bases follows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshwadeep, which sparked controversy in Maldives. Modi’s visit to Lakshwadeep was seen by some as an attempt to divert tourism away from Maldives.
This led to a political row between the two countries, which resulted in three Maldivian Deputy Ministers being suspended from their posts for comments about the Indian Prime Minister.
Despite this, Maldivian President Dr. Muizzu stood firm and stated that size does not matter in the relations between nations, the fact that any country is bigger than Maldives does not give them the “license to bully.”
These events sit on the backdrop of a shift in Maldivian politics, as President Dr. Muizzu heralds a new brand of Maldivian foreign policy which focuses on “Maldives First.” He has begun projects and signed agreements to reduce dependence on any singular country.
This has extended to the issue of Indian Military stationed in the Maldives, as the President had given them a deadline of March 15th to withdraw all troops. These troops are currently tasked with manning the aircraft given by India, however the Maldivian government has insisted that the military personnel be withdrawn and replaced by civilian operators.
Maldivian citizens have now expressed concerns over these new naval bases, as the Indian government has not fully withdrawn their troops from the country and is now looking to build military bases on Maldives’ doorstep. In addition, Indian Coast Guard personnel had boarded Maldivian fishing boats within the Maldivian Exclusive Economic Zone last month and attempted to gain access to their satellite phone. The fishermen were threatened by the coast guard when they refused access.