Defense Minister questioned on Indian soldiers storming local boats in closed door meeting

Defense Minister Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon at the parliament's Committee on National Security Services. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The meeting of Parliament’s Committee on National Security Services (241 Committee) over the incident involving Indian soldiers entering Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with weapons and storming local fishing boats was held behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Defense Minister Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon was summoned to Wednesday’s meeting to be questioned regarding the incident. 

Kicking off the meeting, the Committee’s Chairperson Abdul Ghafoor Moosa cited the letter sent to the Committee regarding the incident as confidential.

In a vote taken amongst members of the Committee in attendance, it was decided that Wednesday’s meeting would be held being closed doors.

Three local fishing boats were stopped and boarded by armed officers from the Indian Coast Guard on December 31, while fishing inside the Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

According to the sailors on Asurumaa-3, Maahoara-3 and Neru-7 – the soldiers demanded the boats’ satellite phone numbers. Soldiers from another Indian Coast Guard ship stormed Maahoara-3 again on February 1.

In a statement on Friday in response to the initial incident, the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) confirmed that the three boats had been inside Maldives’ maritime boundary when it was boarded.

The military said it was able to establish that the boats were stormed by boarding teams from India Coast Guard Ship 246 and India Coast Guard Ship 253.

The MNDF said the operation was conducted without coordination with Maldivian authorities and in violation of international maritime laws and regulations.

Maldives has demanded India for an explanation regarding the incident.