Indian Ambassador to Maldives Sunjay Sudhir said the Police Academy being developed in Addu with financial assistance from India is not an Indian asset but rather belongs to the Maldivian Police. He said it would be the Maldivian police who would also determine how to use it.
In an exclusive interview with Mihaaru News on Sunday, the ambassador said that while people say the academy is being built for the Indian military to stay in the Maldives, such discussions have now ceased. When the public saw Police Commissioner Mohamed Hameed and other police teams touring the academy to see his progress, the public stopped talking about it, he said.
India has increased its funding for defense projects in the Maldives as relations between the two countries strengthen and improve. This has led to an increase in criticism of Indian influence on the Maldives. Asked what India thinks of these accusations, the ambassador said that defense and security are no longer provided by a single nation.
“Defense, whatever the country, defense is a regional concept. It is no longer a national concept,” Sudhir said.
Taking as evidence the recent Indo-Pacific Security Forum in the Maldives, he said the fact that the meeting was co-hosted by the Maldives and the United States shows how countries support each other on these questions. The relationship between India and the Maldives is similar, according to Sudhir.
He said the Maldives Police Service (MPS) had more staff than the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), the MPS decided they also needed their own academy.
“… And that’s something that would be a great asset to MPS. It’s not an Indian asset, it’s a grant asset that’s going to be handed over in a month, a month and a half to MPS, and it will be owned by MPS, ”he said.
India is spending $ 33 million to build the Addu Hithadhoo Police Academy. An Indian company was also hired to carry out the construction and development of the academy. People who disapprove of the relationship between the two nations say India was building the academy to ensure that the Indian military could stay there.
However, Sudhir said that once the building is handed over, it will be the Maldives that will decide on its use.
“India and the Maldives are maritime states. The ocean is a source of great opportunity for both countries in terms of blue economy. But we also have to face the reality that our shared waters are also facing challenges. contemporary threats to our national security Neither India nor the Maldives can provide maritime security in the region on their own, “Sudhir said.
“Defense and security has been a major area of cooperation between India and the Maldives. India’s objective is to support the Maldivian security services, including the MNDF, MPS, customs, immigration [and other areas] through training, the creation of vital infrastructure and any other support sought from time to time.
The ambassador said India is training Maldivian soldiers and police in addition to providing infrastructural support to ensure the security of the region.
The Addu Police Academy is one of the biggest projects India has achieved with its grants. Another such project was the Composite Training Center at Lhaviyani Maafilaafushi. Launched while former President Ali Waheed was in office, the project was completed while President Abdulla Yameen was in office, in 2016.
Sunjay Sudhir had said India had provided an additional $ 7 million to expand the space at the Maafilaafushi center.