A Maldivian fishing boat, ‘Maahoara-3,’ was reportedly stopped and searched by Indian soldiers for a second time while operating within the country’s territorial waters, near the vicinity of a previous incident.

The boat’s captain, Ibrahim Rasheed, recounted the ordeal to local media, stating that the event occurred around midnight on Saturday, three miles from a buoy, near Molhadhoo in Haa Alifu Atoll.

According to Rasheed, despite their attempts to continue fishing, the presence of the Indian vessel, coupled with warnings and the eventual loss of telecommunications signals as it drew closer, forced them to stop.

The armed naval officers who boarded demanded the crew’s satellite phones—a request firmly denied by the crew, citing instructions from the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) to withhold information.

The captain highlighted the aggressive posture of the Indian personnel, who kept their weapons aimed at the crew during the verbal confrontation, claiming it was protocol during such operations.

This incident follows a similar confrontation on 31 January 2024, where ‘Maahoara-3,’ along with ‘Neru-7’ and ‘Asurumaa-3,’ were previously boarded and searched by Indian Coastguard officers, marking a repeated breach of Maldivian sovereignty.

In both instances, the Indian soldiers sought the boats’ satellite phone numbers, with the latest soldiers reportedly from a different naval vessel than the one involved in the earlier incident.

The Bodu Kanneli Masveringe Union (BKMU), which had previously highlighted the initial boarding, confirmed this latest incident. The MNDF has acknowledged the situation and announced plans to issue a formal statement.

The Defence Ministry hours earlier issued a strong statement accusing India of violating international maritime laws with regards to the earlier incident where Indian navy and coastguard personnel boarded at least three Maldivian fishing vessels inside its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

It noted that the Maldives government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has formally requested India to provide justification for the boarding of Maldivian fishing vessels by Indian navy and coastguard personnel without prior notice or coordination with relevant Maldivian authorities.

In the statement, the defence ministry identified the Indian naval vessels as “Indian coastguard ship 246” and “Indian coastguard ship 253.”