The Indian Navy continues to maintain very good relations with Maldives, Vice Admiral M S Pawar, chief of staff, Eastern Naval Command, said on Thursday in response to a question on why the country didn’t participate in Milan ’18, a joint exercise of navies from across the world organized at Port Blair earlier this year.
“Even as we speak, our ship INS Sumedha is patrolling the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Maldives with personnel of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). One of our helicopters leased out to Mauritius is also doing a great job. A fishing vessel from some other country was intercepted by INS Sumedha within Maldives’ EEZ and the MNDF personnel forced it to leave. We share bonds of friendship with Maldives and there are no maritime disputes. There is also cultural affinity between the two countries. One must realise that change is constant, and relationships also move up and down. However, there are issues like terrorism and fundamentalism that are a menace for both India and the Maldives. The Indian Navy still trains MNDF personnel at Cochin. Nothing has changed,” Vice Admiral Pawar said.
He reiterated India’s stand on the Rohingyas and said that all agencies like the water wing of the Border Security Force, Coast Guard and Navy have been asked to ensure that no illegal immigration takes place. “We are working in close cooperation with the Bangladeshi Navy. Illegal immigration creates an opportunity for terrorism and this creates law and order problems. We are ever vigilant to prevent any such movement,” the chief of staff added.
While agreeing that the Navy’s submarine programme had a late start, Vice Admiral Pawar said that things are now looking bright.