Maldives Minister says 76 Indian military personnel replaced by civilians

    The Hawk
    May11/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moosa Zameer, announces replacement of Indian military personnel with civilians from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, emphasizing continued defense collaborations with India to secure the Indian Ocean region.

    Maldives Minister Moosa Zameer

    Male: Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs Moosa Zameer on Saturday said 76 Indian military personnel were replaced by civilian personnel sent by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which manufactured the helicopter donated by the Indian government, Maldives-based Sun Online reported.
    While addressing a press conference on Saturday, Moosa Zameer said that Indian soldiers were deployed in Hanimaadhoo, Kadhdhoo and Gan. He announced that 26 soldiers withdrew from Gan between March 7-9, while another 25 soldiers withdrew from Hanimaadhoo between April 7-9 and 12 withdrew from Kadhdhoo on May 7, Sun Online reported.
    Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the final batch of 13 soldiers withdrew from Kadhdhoo on May 9. He stated that civilians have been brought in to replace Indian soldiers and the civilian crew will leave in April 2026.
    He said, "Civilians have been brought in to replace all of them, to maintain and manage [the aircrafts]. We want to note that only the necessary number had been here before, as well."
    Zameer said that the civilian personnel were sent by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. He further stated that the letter of exchange signed between Maldives and India mentions when the civilian crew will depart from Maldives, according to Sun Online report.
    As per the news report, the contract period of the 26-member crew in Gan and 25-member crew in Kadhdhoo expires in February 2025. Furthermore, the contract period of the 25-member crew in Hanimaadhoo expires in February 2026, Sun Online reported.
    He said, "Their period of stay is declared in the latest letter of exchange signed with us. The period will remain in place for long as there are no amendments made to this letter of exchange. We will engage in further talks with the Indian government based on need."
    Previously, the Maldivian government said that documents show there are 89 Indian soldiers in the Maldives, to operate a military helicopter and Dornier aircraft, donated by India, used mainly for medical evacuations, as per the report.
    Earlier on May 10, Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the Maldives and the "deputation of competent persons" to the archipelago nation.
    "So, both Maldives and India have engaged quite some time to see how best they can continue the operation of aviation platforms. And in that regard, you have seen developments in first and second batches of people who were providing their support there, they had come back," MEA official spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in a press briefing.
    "Now, what I can confirm to you is that the deputation of the competent Indian technical personnel has taken place. As these platforms provide medivac services to the people of Maldives," he added.
    Meanwhile, Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer on Thursday said that his country's defence relations with India go beyond military personnel and the two countries will work together to make Indian Ocean a peaceful place.
    The Maldives Minister, who arrived in India on May 8, said that the platforms which were being handled by Indian military personnel will be handled by civilians.
    "I think Maldives-India defence relations go beyond military personnel. And now, those platforms which have been handled by the military personnel will be handled by civilians. We have had a joint exercise with the Maldivian military, Indian military and Sri Lanka, I think Bangladesh is an observer and we will continue to have these exercises," he said in an interview with ANI.
    "Peace and security of the Indian Ocean is important for both Maldives as well as India. So we will work together to make the Indian Ocean a peaceful place," he added.
    On May 3, India and Maldives held the 4th meeting of the bilateral High-Level Core Group and reviewed the replacement of Indian military personnel from the Island nation by May 10.
    Relations between India and Maldives have been strained since Mohamed Muizzu assumed office. Mohamed Muizzu-led Maldives government had formally requested India withdraw its troops from Male. The removal of Indian troops from Maldives was the main election campaign of Muizzu's party.