The Maldives government has formally requested India to provide justification for the boarding of Maldivian fishing vessels by Indian navy and coastguard personnel. A senior government official confirmed to a local news outlet that a written request for clarification had been sent to the Indian government.

The incident, which took place within the Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on Wednesday afternoon, involved the vessels Asurumaa 3, Niru 7, and Maahoara 3, and has been the subject of widespread discussion since.

A video circulating on social media, purportedly showing Indian military personnel boarding the local fishing vessels, has revealed the nationality of the foreign troops, which the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Coastguard and the government had shown reluctance to name. 

No official statement has been made by the Foreign Ministry, and the MNDF Coastguard has been unable to determine the nationality of foreign vessels and personnel involved as they had left the area by the time the coastguard reached the vicinity of the ‘Asurumaa 3’ fishing vessel.

This footage, shared by the Bodukanneli Masveringe Union (Yellowfin Tuna Fishermen’s Union), depicts the troops in action aboard the boats. The union, which first highlighted the incident, has played a pivotal role in bringing the matter to the attention of both the government and the public.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) is reportedly conducting investigations into the events that unfolded on Wednesday. The circulated video shows the military personnel, believed to be from the Indian navy or coastguard, aboard the Maldivian vessels, with crew members confined to the sterns of their boats.

Audio from the video captures the voices of fishermen and crew, urging Indian officials to leave the vessels and highlighting the MNDF Coastguard’s stance that the boarding was unlawful.

A crew member is heard stating that the MNDF Coastguard declared the boarding of their vessels by Indian officers as illegal, emphasising that such actions were not permissible without their consent while in Maldivian territory, thereby highlighting the legal and sovereign issues involved.