India closely monitoring situation, especially the safety of its citizens. Contingency plans in place for intervention; deployment possible at short notice.
New Delhi: With Maldives descending into chaos after a declaration of emergency and arrests of the serving Chief Justice and a former President, India is weighing its options, with troops put on standby for any contingency that may arise in the coming days.
The island nation has been put under emergency rule by President Abdulla Yameen, who suspended civil rights and arrested the top judiciary after an unfavourable decision to release all political prisoners.
Sources said India has activated its standing operating procedure (SOP) for Maldives by putting troops on standby for deployment at short notice. While orders for direct military intervention have not yet been issued, the SOP mandates airborne troops and warships to be on standby to reach Maldives within hours if needed.
If need be, Indian options for intervention include significant amphibious naval assets that can be deployed within a few hours’ notice, as well as an enhanced airlift capability that includes C-17 and C-130J Special Operations Aircraft, besides a range of rotary wing options.
Decision makers in India are closely monitoring the situation, with Yameen facing a united opposition that has demanded his resignation. This includes his half-brother Abdul Gayoom, who was President of the country for 30 years. Yameen, incidentally, is strongly backed by China, which has increased its influence in the Maldives under his tenure with new infrastructure projects and investments.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was the first democratically elected leader of Maldives but was later sentenced under anti-terror laws, has urged for direct Indian intervention. “(request) India to send envoy, backed by its military, to release judges & pol. detainees inc. Prez. Gayoom. We request a physical presence,” Nasheed tweeted. He himself is one of the political prisoners that the Maldives Supreme Court had ordered to be released. He is currently in exile in Sri Lanka.
Among the many factors that are being monitored from South Block is the safety of Indian nationals as well as citizens of other friendly nations that work or are holidaying in Maldives. India had cautioned Maldives Friday that the rule of law should be followed, and that in the spirit of democracy, the government should abide by the rules of the Supreme Court. The arrest of the top judiciary Monday has put India in a spot, as it is in direct contravention to the request made by New Delhi.
China, which has been closely following the situation, has asked the government to take “necessary measures to faithfully protect the security of Chinese enterprises, institutions and personnel”. In a statement, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued an advisory against travel to Maldives, and has said that it “supports all relevant parties in the Maldives in properly resolving differences through dialogue and negotiation and in safeguarding national and social stability”.
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