Malé, Maldives – Former Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has alleged today that Uthuru Thilafalhu- which is to be developed as a Coast Guard harbor and dockyard, will be used to station Indian troops.
This comes after an agreement was signed between the governments of Maldives and India earlier today to develop a Coast Guard harbor and dockyard at Uthuru Thilafalhu naval base.
Umar stated on his Facebook after the agreement was signed, that the believes dockyard will be used by the Indian Navy, who will utilize the site to repair their vessels, and this will allow for Indian military presence in the area.
“This project will pave the way for constant Indian military and warship presence in the area” said Umar in his statement, adding that this is the fourth area where Indian military presence has been allowed under various pretenses.
Mentioning existing Indian military presence in Addu City, L. Kahdhoo, and HDh. Hanimaadhoo, Umar said that “Maldivian independence is slowly fading away”.
Ending his post, Umar – who has expressed his desire to contend in the 2023 presidential elections, said that under his rule, all Indian military presence in Maldives will be ceased. However, he added that he will maintain a healthy relationship with the neighbouring country.
Despite Umar’s claims, Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has denied any such allegations, and has reassured that no military force will be based at the harbour, detailing that it would only be used to dock and repair Coast Guard vessels.
While Indian Military presence in Maldives has been a great cause of distress to the current opposition, who have even launched an “#IndiaOut” campaign, the development of this harbour and dockyard in Uthuru Thila Falhu was included under the Defence Action Plan signed between India and Maldives in 2016 – when the opposition was in power and the country was led by former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom.
The project will be carried out in two phases, with the construction of the harbour and dockyard expected to be completed within the first three years. The site will also have a naval harbour with communication equipment and resources, radar services, along with training facilities.