Maldives accuses Indian coast guard of unauthorised boarding

The Maldives Defence Ministry claims that the Indian coast guard personnel were spotted on the vessels without any prior consultation, violating international laws.

| Updated: 04 February, 2024 2:53 pm IST
Indian Coast Guard personnel allegedly boarded three Maldivian fishing vessels

NEW DELHI: In a latest development amid the diplomatic rift between India and the Maldives, the Maldivian government has formally requested “comprehensive details” from New Delhi regarding an incident where Indian Coast Guard personnel allegedly boarded three Maldivian fishing vessels within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Maldives Defence Ministry claims that the Indian coast guard personnel were spotted on the vessels without any prior consultation, violating international laws.

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The incident occurred on January 31, when Indian troops intercepted a Maldivian fishing boat operating within the Maldives’ Special Economic Zone, leading to the boarding of three fishing vessels by Indian Coast Guard Ship 246 and Indian Coast Guard Ship 253. The Maldives Defence Ministry asserted that these actions breached international maritime laws and regulations.

“On Feb 1, 2024, the Foreign Ministry of the Maldives has asked (India) officially for the details of the operation that was carried out while Maldivians were fishing in the Maldivian exclusive economic zone, without any coordination with the relevant authorities and against all international laws,” stated the Maldives Defence Ministry in a formal request through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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The tension between the two nations has escalated since the election of President Mohamed Muizzu, perceived as a pro-China leader, in November last year. President Muizzu, who campaigned on a promise to remove Indian military personnel from certain islands, has formalised the request for the withdrawal of 88 Indian military personnel by March 15. This move has further strained bilateral ties, with contradictory statements emerging from the recent high-level core group meeting in New Delhi.

While the Maldives Foreign Ministry claims an agreement was reached for India to begin withdrawing troops from the Maldives on March 10 and complete the process by May 10, the Indian Foreign Ministry’s statement only mentions an agreement on a set of mutually workable solutions, without specifying a withdrawal timeline.

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