India to build new naval base close to Maldives

NEW DELHI — India announced plans for a new naval base off the country’s southwest coast and close to Maldives, as tensions are running high between Delhi and the island nation.

The Indian Navy said Saturday it plans to build a base called INS Jatayu on Minicoy, the southernmost island in the Lakshadweep archipelago. India’s Lakshadweep islands lie about 130 kilometers north of the Maldives. It said a more detailed plan will be published Wednesday.

The Indian Navy said the base was part of a policy to “incrementally augment security infrastructure at the strategically important” islands.

India already has a base in the Lakshadweeps, INS Dweeprakshak on Kavaratti.

Tensions between India and Maldives have grown since Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu came to power last year.

After taking power, Muizzu visited China ahead of India, and said Maldives’ small size is not a license for anyone to bully the country, in an apparent response to calls on Indian social media for tourists to boycott Maldives after three Maldives deputy ministers made derogatory posts about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The ministers were later suspended. / AP


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