The Indian Ambassador to Maldives Sunjay Sudhir said that the Police Academy being developed in Addu with grant aid from India is not an Indian asset but rather belongs to the Maldivian police. He said it will be the Maldivian Police that determines how to use it as well.
In an exclusive interview given to Mihaaru news on Sunday, the ambassador said that while people used to say the academy was being built for the Indian army to stay in Maldives, and such talk have now stopped. When the public witnessed Police Commissioner Mohamed Hameed and other police teams visiting the academy to see it's progress, the public stopped talking about it, he said.
India has increased their funding for defense projects in Maldives as the relationship between the two nations strengthen and improve. This has lead to increased criticism on the Indian influence over the Maldives. When asked about how India feels about such accusations, the ambassador said defence and safety are no longer carried out by a singular nation alone.
"Defence, any country, defence is a regional concept. It is never a national concept anymore," Sudhir said.
Taking the Indo-Pacific Security Forum recently held in Maldives as proof, he said the fact that the meeting was co-hosted by Maldives and the United States shows how countries support one another on such matters. The relationship between India and Maldives is a similar one, according to Sudhir.
He said as Maldives Police Service (MPS) has more personnel than the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), MPS decided they needed their own academy as well.
"... And it is something that would be a great asset for MPS. It's not an Indian asset, it is a grant asset which is going to be handed over in a month, a month and a half's time to MPS, and it will be under the ownership of MPS," he said.
India is spending USD 33 million to build the police academy in Addu Hithadhoo. An Indian company were contracted to carry out the construction and development of the academy as well. People that do not approve of the relationship between the two nations say India was building the academy to ensure the Indian army can stay there.
However, Sudhir said once the building is handed over, it will be Maldives that decides on how to use it.
"Both India and the Maldives are maritime states. The ocean is a source of great opportunity for both countries in terms of the blue economy. But we must also face the reality that our shared waters are also face contemporary threats to our national security. Neither India nor the Maldives can ensure maritime security in the region on its own," Sudhir said.
"Defence and security has been a major area of cooperation between India and Maldives. India’s objective is to support Maldivian security services including MNDF, MPS, Customs, Immigration [and other areas] through training, creation of vital infrastructure and any other support sought from time to time."
The ambassador said India was training Maldivian soldiers and police officers in addition to providing infrastructural support to ensure the region is safe.
The police academy in Addu is one of the biggest projects carried out by India on their grant aid. Another such project was the Composite Training Center in Lhaviyani Maafilaafushi. Started while former President Ali Waheed was in office, the project was completed while President Abdulla Yameen was in office, in 2016.
Sunjay Sudhir had said India had provided an additional USD 7 million to increase the space of the center in Maafilaafushi.