Maldives returns helicopter gifted by India
A Dhruv Helicopter of India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) (C) lifts off in front of a group of photographers at The HAL helicopter division in Bangalore. (Photo: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

In what is clearly a sign of strained ties between the two nations, Maldives has asked New Delhi to take back one of the two helicopters India had gifted to Male.

Maldives wants a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft instead of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter that India had gifted, the Times of India quoted a Maldives government official as saying.

Relationship between India and Maldives has not been smooth in recent times, and something that’s becoming a cause for concern for India is Maldives allowing China to make strategic inroads. China has a number of infrastructure projects in Maldives, including an airport project.

Late last month,  Maldivian Ambassador to China Mohamed Faisal seemed to take a shot at India saying Maldives has taken a number of projects to India for finance, “but we did not receive the necessary finance.” However, he did say India was like a brother.

“India is a brother. We are a family, we may quarrel and we may have arguments but in the end, we will sit down and resolve it,” the diplomat had said, according to PTI. China, on the other hand, “is like a long-lost cousin that we have found, a long-lost cousin who is willing to help us,” the diplomat said.

The picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago plunged into chaos in February when its Supreme Court called for the release of nine political prisoners. The government refused to implement the ruling and Maldives president Abdulla Yameen imposed a state of emergency.
Maldives was under strong international pressure to implement Supreme Court’s ruling, but even during that time China put up a staunch defense of Yameen.

Yet another sign of deteriorating relationships between India and Maldives was a remark made by Mohamed Shainee, a senior minister in President Yameen’s government, who asked India to stay out of its internal matters.

“Why haven’t we gone into the Kashmir issue…and asked to be (an) intermediary? Because they are internal matters…India should stay away from our issue,” said Shainee. “We are independent and capable of dealing with the situation. If we need help, we will let India know.”