President Muizzu sets deadline for Indian troops to leave Maldives: ‘Not even…’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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President Mohamed Muizzu sets deadline for Indian troops to leave Maldives: 'Not even…'

Mar 05, 2024 03:14 PM IST

Mohamed Muizzu made the announcement even as the Maldives has signed a "military assistance" deal with China.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu has announced that no Indian military personnel, not even those in civilian clothing, would be present inside his country after May 10, a media report said on Tuesday, stepping up his anti-India rhetoric.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of Maldives Mohamed Muizzu during the COP28 in UAE in December 2023. (PTI file photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of Maldives Mohamed Muizzu during the COP28 in UAE in December 2023. (PTI file photo)

Mohamed Muizzu's statement comes less than a week after an Indian civilian team reached the Maldives to take charge of one of the three aviation platforms in the island nation, well ahead of the March 10 deadline agreed by the two countries for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel.

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Also Read | Amid diplomatic row with India, Maldives to get military boost from China

Mohamed Muizzu made the announcement even as the Maldives has signed a "military assistance" deal with China after ordering Indian troops deployed in the small but strategically-placed archipelago to leave, officials said on Tuesday.

Some 89 Indian military personnel in the country will be gone by May 10 after having been previously ordered out by pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu, who came to power last year on an anti-Indian platform.

Addressing the Baa atoll Eydhafushi residential community during his tour across the atoll, President Muizzu stated that due to his government’s success in expelling Indian troops from the country, people who spread false rumours, are attempting to twist the situation, a news portal Edition.mv reported.

Also Read | First batch of Indian civilian personnel reaches Maldives to operate 3 aircraft

“That these people [Indian military] are not departing, that they are returning after changing their uniforms into civilian clothing. We must not indulge such thoughts that instil doubts in our hearts and spread lies,” the portal quoted Mohamed Muizzu.

“There will be no Indian troops in the country come May 10. Not in uniform and not in civilian clothing. The Indian military will not be residing in this country in any form of clothing. I state this with confidence,” Mohamed Muizzu said.

Indian troops in Maldives

On February 2, after a high-level meeting between the two sides was held in New Delhi where the Maldivian foreign ministry said India would replace its military personnel operating the three aviation platforms in the Maldives by May 10 and the first phase of the process would be completed by March 10.

Also Read | On Indian troops in Maldives claim, ex-minister's 'lies' jab at President Mohamed Muizzu

The Indian troops man the three Indian platforms that have been providing humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of the Maldives for the last few years using two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft.

Mohamed Muizzu's pro-China tilt

Mohamed Muizzu rode to power last year on an anti-India stance and within hours of taking oath demanded India to remove its personnel from the strategically located archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

Edition.mv reported that while the first troops to depart the country are the Indian military personnel operating the two helicopters in Addu City, the military personnel present in Haa Dhaalu atoll Hanimaadhoo and Laamu atoll Kahdhoo are also expected to leave ahead of May 10.

India agreed to remove troops

India had agreed to remove their troops from Maldives under the condition that a number of their civilians equivalent to the military presence are brought to operate the aircraft.

The Maldives' proximity to India, barely 70 nautical miles from the island of Minicoy in Lakshadweep and 300 nautical miles from the mainland's western coast, and its location at the hub of commercial sea lanes running through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) gives it significant strategic importance.

The Maldives has been India's key maritime neighbour in the IOR and it occupies a special place in its initiatives such as SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the Neighbourhood First Policy.'

Maldives allowed Chinese research ship to enter its waters

In February, the Maldives allowed controversial Chinese research ship China's Xiang Yang Hong 3 to enter its waters in a sign of the nation's diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

China's Xiang Yang Hong 3 arrived in Male after being refused permission to dock by Sri Lanka following objections from India, which has labelled it a spy ship.

China also gave 12 electric ambulances to the Maldives on Sunday, the health ministry said.

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