MALE (Agencies): The Maldives’ National Defence Force apprehended an Indian fishing vessel within the Maldives Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The boat was captured approximately 13 miles east of Haa Alif Kelaa island. This incident has the potential to strain bilateral relations between New Delhi and Male, especially given the recent pro-China tilt in the Maldives under President Mohamed Muizzu.

Muizzu, widely regarded as pro-China, has taken several anti-India measures in recent months. These actions include urging India to withdraw its troops from the island nation, deploying drones to patrol exclusive waters, and granting China permission to dock its research vessel. Previously, around 90 Indian military personnel maintained radar stations and surveillance aircraft stationed in the Maldives. Indian warships also assisted in patrolling the Maldives’ exclusive economic zone. However, in response to Male’s request, India agreed to replace its troops with civilians.

The civilian crew, tasked with operating the helicopter donated by New Delhi, has already arrived in the Maldives. As part of the troop replacement process, the helicopter stationed in Gan will be transported to India for repairs, with test flights scheduled to commence.

This incident underscores the delicate geopolitical balance in the region and highlights the Maldives’ strategic significance. As tensions persist, both India and the Maldives must navigate their relationship carefully to maintain stability and cooperation1

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