No Chinese warship deployed close to Maldives in Indian Ocean, Navy keeping a strong vigilance: Govt

21 February 2018, 11:01 AM

The govt sources on Tuesday denied reports of Chinese warship being deployed close to the waters of the Maldives since political turmoil broke out in the island-nation. 

The sources added that India is keeping a close vigilance on the Chinese Navy's movements in the Indian ocean and reiterated India's strong naval presence in critical sea lanes in the Indian Ocean region.

They, however, said a Chinese destroyer and a frigate had crossed into the Eastern Indian Ocean through the Sunda Strait and exited the Indian Ocean through the Lombok Strait while heading towards the South China Sea a few days ago.

The sources also rejected media reports quoting Chinese website sina.com.cn that 11 Chinese warships had entered the East Indian Ocean amid a constitutional crisis in the Maldives.

The sources said India currently has a significant naval presence in the Indian Ocean region, adding Indian Navy has deployed one warship each in East of Indonesia, Malacca Strait, Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Aden.

India has also deployed a warship next to the waters of Sri Lanka, another one between Bangladesh and Myanmar and one between the Seychelles and Mauritius.

Currently, India has two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) in the Maldives and around 40 personnel from the Indian armed forces are stationed at the island nation as part of defense cooperation between the two countries.

"We have a very robust surveillance mechanism at the Indian Ocean Region based on deployment since July 2017. No movement of Chinese warship has been detected near the waters of Maldives," said a source in the Indian Navy.

It said currently, the closest distance between a Chinese warship and Maldivian waters would be around 2,500 nautical miles. Last year, the Navy had introduced a new plan for deployment of warships in the Indian Ocean region to effectively counter China's growing presence in the strategically key waters.

A state of emergency was declared in the Maldives earlier this month, deepening an ongoing political crisis there. 

First Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 10:36 AM

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