All Indian troops have now left the Maldives except for the doctors working in Senehiya, bringing the total number of Indian military personnel who have withdrawn to 76, the administration said on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer stated during a press conference that 76 troops had returned in six groups over the past three months.

Troops were withdrawn over the six occasions as follows;

Date (2024)Number of TroopsIslandAtoll
7 March12GanSeenu
9 March14GanSeenu
7 April13HanimaadhooHaa Dhaalu
9 April12HanimaadhooHaa Dhaalu
7 May12KahdhdhooLaamu
9 May13KahdhdhooLaamu

The troops had been stationed across three points in the Maldives, with 26 deployed to operate a helicopter in Gan Island of Seenu Atoll, 25 to operate a helicopter in Kadhdhoo Island of Laamu Atoll, and another 25 to operate a Dornier aircraft in Hanimaadhoo Island of Haa Dhaalu Atoll.

The three aircraft were donated by India to the Maldives across three administrations.

Zameer confirmed that Indian Army doctors, who had been working at Senehiyaa military hospital in Malé since September 2012, remained working at the hospital at the request of the MNDF.

“The President [Mohamed Muizzu]’s intention is to send them if they infringe on sovereignty, by asking the Indian government, but we see no need for it at the moment,” Zameer said.

While the two governments have agreed to bring in civilian contractors from India as replacements, including employees of the vehicles’ manufacturer, the Muizzu administration has not disclosed the agreement.

Zameer said that the civilians brought in are the same, in numbers, to the troops that were sent back.

The Indian military has a long history of collaboration with the Maldives.

As part of the relationship, the first helicopter was gifted to the Maldives during the Mohamed Nasheed administration. The second helicopter was brought in during the Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom administration and the Dornier aircraft was donated during the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration.

The two Indian helicopters and Dornier aircraft are now being operated by Indian civilians, Defence Minister Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon confirmed.

Speaking at a President’s Office press conference, Ghassan said the civilians would not be accountable to the Indian Army but to the Maldives’ Ministry of Defence and the MNDF.

“We have looked at their passports and their backgrounds and we can confirm today that they are civilians,” Ghassan said.

There are currently 76 Indian civilian contractors operating the three aircraft in the Maldives; with 26 stationed at Gan Island in Seenu Atoll, 25 at Hanimaadhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, and 25 at Kadhdhoo in Laamu Atoll, Zameer confirmed.

The civilian contracts for those at Kadhdhoo and Gan expire in February 2025, while those at Hanimaadhoo expiring in February 2026.

Meanwhile, former Home Minister Umar Naseer criticised the current administration, casting doubt on whether the Indian military’s influence had truly been expelled from the Maldives.

“India has fooled our successive governments again & again. This new narrative that their military has left Maldives is utter nonsense. Indian Military is very much here. Indian Navy Helicopters, Donier aircraft, Radar Stations, Naval staff are here,” Naseer wrote on social media in response to senior officials from both countries stating that that Indian troops had left the Maldives.

Naseer, who also served in the MNDF, also penned an opinion piece in the local ‘Sun’ newspaper, elaborating slightly on his social media post while largely sticking to the same talking points.