New Delhi: India is yet to take back the helicopters it had given to Maldives, despite the Maldives giving a deadline of June 30 for the same.
The two Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters were said to be a gift from India to Maldives in 2013. One of them was operated by the Indian Coast Guard and the other one by the Indian Navy.The Maldivian government under Abdulla Yameen made it clear earlier this year that it wanted India to take back the copters and the crew, which includes around 6 pilots, by the end of June.
Highly placed sources told News18 that India had written to Maldives recently for an extension on the deadline. Interestingly, visas of the Indian personnel have also expired.
While it is unlikely that Maldives will deport the Indian personnel, the island nation has not agreed for an extension of the deadline. News18 had sent out relevant queries to the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Defence, for which a response is awaited.
Maldivian Ambassador to India Ahmed Mohamed said that the issue was being handled directly in Male. “What I know is the helicopters are supposed to be taken back by 30th June. I have no further update,” he told News18.
The helicopters are the latest in a series of issues between India and Maldive. India has repeatedly voiced its concern over the state of governance in Maldives and ties have hit an all-time low.
There were a series of talks between both sides over the last couple of weeks but Maldives has insisted India on taking back the helicopters, which are stationed in Addu and Laamu attols. News18 has reliably learnt that the presence of Indian defence personnel was a concern for Maldives.
Earlier, a top Maldivian parliamentarian was denied entry into India for which the Indian envoy in Maldives was summoned. The parliamentarian, Ahmed Nihan, had termed India’s actions as “bullying”.
Amid souring ties between the India and Maldives, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) had recently issued a notification changing the limits on the export of certain essential commodities to Maldives. India had said that the lowering of limits of the items was “based on actual utilization in the recent past.”