First group of civilian crew replacing Indian troops arrive in Maldives

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The Maldives Ministry of Defence said on Monday that the first group of Indian civilians arrived in the country to replace the Indian troops and handle the helicopters provided by India for medical purposes.

In a statement, the ministry said, “The civilian crew who will operate the helicopter in place of the Indian troops currently stationed in Seenu Gan (Addu city) has arrived in Maldives this evening.”

Currently, around 80 Indian military personnel are in the Maldives primarily to operate two Indian helicopters and an aircraft that have carried out several medical evacuations and humanitarian missions.

The Indian platforms have been providing humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of the Maldives for the last few years.

The Indian military personnel present at the Gan International Airport have begun the handover procedure to the civilians in the wee hours of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Maldives Defence Ministry said that the helicopter stationed at Laamu Gan Kadhdhoo Airport would be returned to India for maintenance and a replacement helicopter is scheduled arrive on Wednesday aboard an Indian warship.

The Maldivian foreign ministry had said after a high-level meeting between India and Maldives in Delhi on February 2 that India would replace its military personnel operating the three aviation platforms in the Maldives by May 10.

“Both sides agreed that the government of India will replace the military personnel in one of the three aviation platforms by March 10, and will complete replacing military personnel in the other two platforms by May 10,” the ministry had said in a statement.

Similarly, the Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement that both sides “agreed on a set of mutually workable solutions to enable continued operation of Indian aviation platforms” that provide humanitarian and medical evacuation services to the people of Maldives.

In January, Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu’s had called for withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the country by March 15.

When Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, had won the presidential election in November 2023, he had promised to remove Indian troops from the country.

Published By:

Ashutosh Acharya

Published On:

Feb 27, 2024

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