India Boosts Maritime Security with New Naval Base Near Maldives

Last Updated on March 4, 2024 12:07 pm

In a move aimed at strengthening its maritime security and bolstering operational capabilities, India has announced plans to construct a new naval base, INS Jatayu, on Minicoy, the southernmost island in the Lakshadweep archipelago. The archipelago is strategically located about 130 kilometers north of the Maldives.

The decision comes amid heightened tensions between India and the Maldives, with the Indian Navy citing the need to enhance operational reach for anti-piracy and anti-narcotics efforts in the Western Arabian Sea. The base, according to the navy statement, will also play a crucial role as the first responder in the region and improve connectivity with the mainland.

As part of a broader policy to incrementally augment security infrastructure in strategically important areas, the new base adds to India’s existing presence in the Lakshadweep region, where INS Dweeprakshak is stationed on Kavaratti.

Tensions between India and the Maldives have been escalating since President Mohamed Muizzu assumed office last year. Muizzu’s visit to China ahead of India raised eyebrows, and his subsequent statement emphasized the Maldives’ refusal to be bullied despite its small size. This declaration seemed to be in response to social media calls from Indian users urging a boycott of the Maldives after three deputy ministers made derogatory comments about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leading to their suspension.

In February, Muizzu further strained relations by requesting India to replace military personnel with civilian technical staff in the operation of humanitarian service planes based in the Maldives. Approximately 75 Indian military personnel are currently stationed in the country, involved in tasks such as transporting patients from remote islands and conducting sea rescues.

The construction of INS Jatayu reflects India’s strategic move to secure its interests in the region and maintain a robust presence, responding to the evolving dynamics and challenges in the Indian Ocean. The detailed plan for the new naval base, set to be published on Wednesday, may provide further insights into the specific objectives and capabilities of this strategic development.

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