Despite formal talks and the departure of three batches of Indian troops, uncertainty looms over the exact number stationed in the Maldives. Government spokesperson Heena Waleed stated at a recent press conference that 51 Indian soldiers have left the country so far, with the final withdrawal set for May 10. 

However, precise figures remain ambiguous, as the government has not clarified the total number of troops initially deployed or replaced by Indian civilian personnel.

India initially stationed soldiers in the Maldives to operate two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft, while military doctors were positioned at the Senahiya hospital. Amid strained relations between the Maldives and India following President Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s assumption of office, the new administration has pivoted towards China, signing a classified military agreement that critics claim lacks transparency.

The opposition’s narrative focuses on the administration’s inability to provide a consistent count of Indian troops. While some government documents cite 77 to 89 personnel, while in opposition, they speculated the numbers could be in the thousands. 

This controversy played a pivotal role in the recent elections, where the Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress coalition campaigned on an “India Out” platform.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the defeated former government, has refuted these allegations, asserting that there were no armed foreign soldiers in the Maldives. The party accused the current government of perpetuating falsehoods for political gain and demanded transparency in military agreements.

Critics argue that the administration’s inability to provide accurate figures adds to the murkiness, questioning its commitment to campaign promises of removing Indian military presence. The government’s ambiguity about the numbers remains a focal point of political contention, underscoring the lack of clarity in a matter that remains of national significance.