The dynamic between Maldives and India has recently been brought into focus following actions by the newly sworn-in President of Maldives, Mohammed Muizzu.
Within 24 hours of taking his oath, Muizzu initiated a formal request for India to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives, as part of his 'Out India campaign'.
This move has sparked discussions about the actual nature of India's military presence in the island nation.
Contrary to President Muizzu's assertions, India does not have troops stationed in the Maldives.
Instead, India has deployed crews and technicians who operate and maintain a patrol vessel, Dornier aircraft, and two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), all of which bear Maldivian colors.
These assets are primarily utilised for specific purposes, including medical evacuation, surveillance, and air rescue operations.
The presence of these Indian assets is significant in humanitarian contexts rather than as a military force.
Labeling them as "Indian troops" is a misrepresentation of their role and function in the Maldives.
Since 2019, these assets have been involved in a total of 977 missions, predominantly providing essential medical support to the Maldivian population.
Air surveillance activities constitute a minor fraction of these operations.
A breakdown of the mission types from 2019 to 2023 reveals that 461 were for medical evacuation, 148 for search and rescue, 69 for air patrol, and 22 for miscellaneous purposes, Hindustan Times reported.
This data shows an increasing trend in the number of missions conducted annually from 2019 to 2022, with a peak of 262 missions in 2022. However, there has been a decrease in 2023, with only 159 missions recorded up to October.
Given that the majority of the operations were linked to providing urgent medical evacuations, President Muizzu's obsession with removing Indian troops may deprive Maldivian citizens in remote islands— who have elected him — of critically needed help.
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