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    India begins military withdrawal from Maldives amidst Pro-China shift | ActionPunjab

    PTC Web Desk: India has started the withdrawal of military personnel from the Maldives, responding to the new pro-China president’s directive to expel Indian security forces. According to reports from the Mihaaru newspaper, 25 Indian troops stationed in the southernmost atoll of Addu have left ahead of the agreed-upon withdrawal start date of March 10.

    Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, who assumed office in September, vowed to remove Indian security forces patrolling the Maldives’ extensive maritime borders. Following discussions with New Delhi, both nations agreed to complete the withdrawal of 89 Indian troops and support staff by May 10.

    Mihaaru said three Indian aircraft — two helicopters and one fixed-wing plane — would now be operated by Indian civilian staff, already present in the Maldives. While there has been no official confirmation from either side, the Maldivian National Defence Force reportedly acknowledged the commencement of the Indian withdrawal.

    Last week, the Maldives entered into a “military assistance” agreement with China as Indian troops prepared to depart. The Maldivian defence ministry cited the deal’s aim to strengthen bilateral ties, including staff training provided by China.

    India’s concerns about China’s expanding influence in the Indian Ocean and the Maldives, as well as neighbouring Sri Lanka, have been growing. Both strategically located South Asian nations lie along crucial east-west international shipping routes.

    Relations between Male and New Delhi have cooled since Muizzu’s election victory. While India considers the Maldives within its sphere of influence, the island nation has increasingly aligned itself with China, its primary external creditor.

    Muizzu, who visited Beijing in January and signed multiple agreements, has denied seeking to alter the regional balance by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces. In response, India recently announced the reinforcement of naval forces on its “strategically important” Lakshadweep islands, approximately 130 km north of the Maldives. The Indian navy unit based on the island of Minicoy will enhance “operational surveillance” of the area.

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    Author: actionpunjab

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