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Defence Minister to be summoned to parliament over Indian Coastguard issue

Mariyath Mohamed
04 February 2024, MVT 20:48
Mariyath Mohamed
04 February 2024, MVT 20:48

Minister of Defence Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon is being summoned to parliament in relation to the issue of Indian Coastguard boarding and conducting operations on three local fishing vessels which were within the Maldives' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The notice of enquiry submitted by The Democrats President, Henveiru West Constituency MP Hassan Latheef, raises the question if Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF) has ascertained beyond doubt that the incident occurred within the Maldives' EEZ, and appeals for further details.

It has also been proposed to question the Minister on policy changes that the Government needs to implement to prevent the recurrence of such events.

The Democrats have also submitted an emergency motion to Parliament on this matter. Ungoofaaru MP Mohamed Waheed submitted this motion, which claims that the failure of government institutions to share information regarding the incident has created uneasiness amongst the public.

Waheed accused the government of inaction on the matter, describing it as efforts to shy away from their responsibilities. He called for urgent and prompt action on the matter.

Last Wednesday, three local fishing vessels reported that Indian Coastguard boarded their vessels while they were within the Maldives' ocean territory and proceeded to question and intimidate the crew, searching the vessels and detaining it in place for hours.

Defence Ministry released a statement later, confirming that their investigations showed that Indian officers had boarded the vessels, and that the officers are part of the Boarding Teams of India Coastguard Ship 246 and India Coastguard Ship 253.

The Ministry stated that the government has officially requested the Government of India to provide details of their justification for Indian military personnel to have boarded and conducted an operation on, without any coordination with any Maldivian authorities and against the Law of the Sea Convention, a number of Maldivian vessels engaged in fishing in the country's own EEZ.

However, no mention of an official response from India has been made as of yet.