New Delhi, May 11: India has dispatched a warship to Maldives to undertake joint surveillance and patrol of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Two officers and eight sailors from the Indian Navy’s elite marine commandoes wing are reportedly at Maafilhafushi in Maldives, which is 145 km north of Male, to train its personnel in diving and tactics under the second such asymmetric warfare training exercise called “Ekatha” from April 28 to May 15.
“It is an endeavor of the Indian government and Navy to ensure safety and security of the vast EEZ of the island nation,” The Times of India quoted Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharmaon as saying. Both the nations shared a cold relation since Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen on February 5 declared an emergency after the country's Supreme Court ordered to release a group of opposition leaders convicted in widely criticised trials. Maldives had also declined India’s offer to participate in its eight-day mega naval conclave called “Milan” at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from March 6 to 13. Maldives also returned one of the two Dhruv advanced light helicopters which the Indian government had (ALHs) gifted for surveillance purpose.
With the aim to counter China, India has helped Maldives in enhancing its military capability. India has also provided EEZ surveillance to Maldives over the last several years. According to the report, apart from gifting a fast-attack craft, India has stationed six pilots and over a dozen ground personnel in the archipelago to operate the ALHs and help the MNDF.
After Maldivian President declared emergency, the relation between both the countries dipped to its lowest. Maldives also warned India not to interfere in its internal matter. China tried to take advantage of the situation. Chinese warships were seen near the Indian Ocean Region during that time. China, which looks at Maldives as a significant participant in its 21st century Maritime Silk Road plan in the Indian Ocean, has made heavy investments in the nation of islands which has 26 tropical atolls and 1,000 small islands.