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First Batch Of Indian Civilian Personnel Reaches Maldives To Replace Troops: MEA

New Delhi has provided Male with two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft, predominantly employed for marine surveillance, search and rescue missions, and medical evacuations. These operations have been managed by Indian troops.

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X/@presidencymv
Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu Photo: X/@presidencymv
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The government announced on Thursday that the initial contingent of Indian "technical personnel" has arrived in the Maldives to take over the duties of military personnel overseeing two helicopters and an aircraft primarily used for humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.

The development suggests a resolution between the Modi government and the recently inaugurated Muizzu administration on the contentious presence of Indian troops in the Maldives, which had become a focal point of the "India Out" campaign led by the ruling party.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal, "The first batch of [Indian] technical personnel to operate an Advanced Light Helicopter at Gan [island] has reached the Maldives. It will replace the existing personnel that were until now operating this platform."

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Mr Jaiswal did not specify the number of troops being replaced in the initial deployment, out of a total of 88 Indian military personnel reportedly stationed in the Maldives.

New Delhi has provided Male with two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft, predominantly employed for marine surveillance, search and rescue missions, and medical evacuations. These operations have been managed by Indian troops.

Relations between New Delhi and Male have been strained since Mohamed Muizzu assumed the presidency of the Maldives last year, vowing to end the nation's "India First" policy. Muizzu has called for the withdrawal of troops in the region by March 15.

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The Maldivian government announced that the first batch of Indian troops will depart by March 10, with the remainder leaving by May 10,  citing an agreement reached at a high-level meeting in the Indian capital on a range of issues concerning bilateral cooperation. 

Merely a month after requesting India to withdraw its military personnel, the Muizzu administration also declared its decision not to renew the previous government's agreement with India regarding a hydrographic survey of Maldivian waters.

Last month, after he returned from his five-day state visit to China, Muizzu indirectly hit out at India while addressing the media at the airport. Without naming any country, he said: “We may be small, but that doesn’t give you the licence to bully us.”

Muizzu also chose Turkey as his first foreign destination before visiting China and Dubai for COP28. This was a departure from the tradition of Maldivian Presidents choosing India as their first overseas stop after entering office.

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