Male’, Maldives – The Indian Coastguard’s offshore patrol vessel “ICGS Sankalp” has entered Maldivian waters today, to partake in a serial surface surveillance patrol which is a joint operation by MNDF Coastguard and the Indian Navy.
MNDF further revealed that the ICGS Sankalp , starting tomorrow and up to the 5th of this month, will be carrying out surface surveillance patrols with MNDF, in the area which falls within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Maldives.
These patrols, which are carried out under a serialized surveillance program of specific Maldivian marine regions , started back in 2009, out of which this is reportedly the 71st such cooperative operation between MNDF Coastguard and the Indian Navy. According to MNDF, the patrols aim to survey the waters in the EEZ for any unlawful maritime activities.
The Maldivian and Indian army have been conducting multiple collaborative maritime surveillance operations together via sea, and by air as well. As such, the helicopters which were donated to the Maldives by India, and operated by Indian soldiers based in the Maldives have also been a key aspect of many operations. India also recently donated a Dornier flight, which is now under the command of MNDF, to be also used for monitoring the EEZ area of Maldives.
However, the opposition has been questioning the sovereignty of Maldives after the issue of Indian military personnel staying in Maldives to operate the two helicopters came under public debate recently, afterwhich, an online campaign has started calling to remove all such personnel, under the hashtag “IndiaOut”.
The opposition has been accusing the current government of allowing India to build their military bases around the country as well. The main controversy began as the number of Indian pilots and crew who are stationed in Maldives to operate the two helicopters which the Indian government had donated to MNDF grew larger – a number which the defense forces of Maldives refuse to reveal.