Maldives begins re-operating India-gifted helicopters

Maldives begins re-operating India-gifted helicopters

K. Male' Zunana Zalif,

Maldives new government has begun reusing the two helicopters gifted by the Indian government, after a long hiatus during the former administration.

During the administration of former President Abdulla Yameen, authorities had asked India to take back one of the two helicopters, the Dhruv Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) in April, again having asked it to take back the second one in June, giving them until the end of June to do so. The helicopters have been left unused since then.

Authorities had asked the Indian government to take the choppers, gifted during the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed in 2010 and in 2017, back after ties soured following President Yameen’s refusal to abide by Indian orders to abide by a Supreme Court ruling issues in February 2018.

On Thursday, the helicopter was operated to transfer a sickly from Kurendhoo island in Lhaviyani atoll, to capital city Male’ for further treatment.

With this, opposition has claimed that the Indian government uses the helicopters to spy on the affairs of Maldives.

On the 25th of December, Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) announced that they will begin re-operating the helicopters.

After assuming office, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had also revealed that his government intends to begin re-operating the two helicopters for emergency medical evaluation as well as to conduct search and rescue operations over sea accidents, just like before.

President Solih claimed that although the helicopters will be piloted by Indian pilots, the Maldivian government will decide when it will take flight, where and at what time.

Since the inauguration of President Solih’s administration, his new Minister of Defence, Mariya Ahmed Didi had also stated that the two helicopters will remain in the Maldives, stating that “it is not in our culture to ask neighbors to take back what they give.”