Foreign troops, believed to be from the Indian Coast Guard, reportedly boarded three fishing boats along the north coast of the Maldives. The Yellowfin Tuna Fishermen’s Union raised alarm over the incident, with the union’s president, Hussain Nasheed, stating that the vessels targeted were “Asurma 3,” “Neru 7,” and “Maahora 7.”
Asurma 3, one of the affected boats, was seized at 2:30 pm with its 18 crew members on board. According to Nasheed, the Indian Coast Guard approached the boat while it was well within the boundaries of Maldivian waters. The union president cited an account from a sailor on the Asurma boat, claiming that the Indian Coast Guard deployed a drone before two ships closed in on the vessel.
Six Indian soldiers allegedly boarded Asurma 3, demanding the satellite phone number from the crew. The sailors, however, refused to comply, prompting the Indian forces to halt the boat. Nasheed quoted the sailor as saying, “We do not have any reasons to give the boat’s satellite phone number when we are within Maldivian waters, so we didn’t give.”
Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shiyam expressed concern over the incident, asserting that the ministry’s vessel monitoring system confirmed Asurma 3’s presence in Maldivian waters. Shiyam’s statement contradicts the Indian Navy’s claim, as quoted by journalist Siddhanth Sibal on social media, stating that there were no Indian naval vessels within the Maldives Economic Zone (SEZ).
The situation raises further diplomatic tensions between Maldives and India, emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation to ascertain the facts surrounding the foreign military’s actions in Maldivian territorial waters.