The tropical island kingdom of Maldives, it truly is located at a distance of 1300 km from Chennai, is in political turmoil. Operation Cactus (1988) is one of the defeats in opposition to the coup to overthrow the Government of Maldives. On November 3, 1988, a difficult and speedy of Maldivians assisted via a Sri Lankan militant enterprise unsuccessfully tried to overthrow the authorities within side the island republic of Maldives.
32 years ago, India released an Operation Cactus to assist the Maldives because of the reality America of the United States confronted its largest challenge – a coup released via mercenaries. The operation all the time etched within side the India Maldives statistics of near cooperation suggests how Indian Navy completed a widespread role, particularly in terms of safety and balance of the Indian Ocean region.
A employer of 80-two hundred Sri Lankan militants from the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), subsidized with the resource of the usage of Maldivian businessman Abdulla Luthufi, mounted a coup within side the Maldives in November 1988.
The operation started on the night time time of 3 November 1988, when Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft of the Indian Air Force airlifted the elements of the 50th Independent Parachute Brigade, commanded with the resource of the usage of Brigadier Farukh Bulsara, the 6th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment and the 17th Parachute Field Regiment from Agra Air Force Station and flew them non-stop over 2,000 kilometres (1,240 mi) to land them over the Male International Airport on Hulhule Island. The Indian Army paratroopers arrived on Hulhule nine hours after the capture from President Gayoom.
The Indian paratroopers properly secured the airfield, crossed over to Male the usage of commandeered boats and rescued President Gayoom. The paratroopers restored the management of the capital to President Gayoom’s government inner hours. Some of the mercenaries fled within side the path of Sri Lanka in a hijacked freighter. Those now no longer capable of gaining the supply in time had been quickly rounded up and surpassed over to the Maldives government.
Operation Cactus- Current Situation
Troops were deployed in one swift motion. Less than 16 hours since President Gayoom’s SOS call, Indian paratroopers were enrooted, leaving from the Agra Air Force Station on an Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft, The Wire reported, quoting an excerpt from. Operation Cactus: Mission Impossible in the Maldives by Sushant Singh.
Operation Cactus- How Indian Army helped Maldives
On third November 1988, at round 0600 hours, the Joint Secretary at MEA obtained a frantic name from Male, Maldives, requesting assist to store President Gayoom from an armed coup with the aid of using mercenaries. Government of India, moved at a velocity unheard withinside the annals of Indian history. Mired in Operation PAWAN, Srilanka, the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) mobilised the Indian Armed Forces. Spearheading the operation the 50 Independent Parachute Brigade of Army, forty four Sqn Indian Air Force and Indian Navy lead with the aid of using Brig “Bull” Bulsara, a fearless, tough, no nonsense chief of men, lands at Hulhule Airport at 2148 hours, flying 4 and 1/2 of hours overlaying 3500 KMs. In a bold plan hatched at the fly with very little records available, the President of a pleasant us of a is properly rescued with the aid of using 0210 hours on four Nov 1988 . Mission completed from a cold inside sixteen hours of the primary indication of an imminent operation with out a unmarried casualty. Operation Cactus Maldives located India as a worldwide electricity able to projecting and shielding it’s National Interests and people of our neighbours.
While the PLOTE militants seized many key factors throughout the city, the only vicinity that they’d forgotten to hold an eye fixed on become Hulhule Airport.
In the early hours of 03 Nov 1988, 55,000 citizens of Male (the capital of Maldives) woke up to the fact of an armed coup, listening to gunshots all spherical for the primary time of their lives. Till then the Maldivians had not often witnessed crime go away apart violence (in contrast to now). The closing homicide on this island state become said in 1976 and that too of a German murdering his girlfriend and the only earlier than that become manner lower back in 1793. Abdullah Luthufi a wealthy businessman with the assist of mercenaries from the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) had taken over the island state, capturing the Radio and TV stations and the presidential palace. Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the President due to the fact 1978, who have been lower back to electricity with a 98.5% majority for the 0.33 time become scheduled to go to India on 02/03 Nov 1988, previous to his oath taking rite on eleven Nov. On studying of the coup, the President went into hiding, taking refuge in a secure residence with inside the capital island of Male.
The 1500 strong National Security Service (NSS) whose Headquarter is placed adjoining to the Presidential Palace become besieged with the aid of using the mercenaries, who fortuitously did not input and take over the Armory. Complicity of some NSS Cadres become in no way dominated out. President Gayoom from a secure residence asked help first from the United States accompanied with the aid of using the Soviets and thereafter Pakistan to rescue him. The US base at Diego Garcia become the closest placed 1175 kms away, however it become election yr with the Presidential elections scheduled for the 8th of November. Not having obtained a advantageous reaction from the 3 nations, President Gayoom asked India for help. It need to be stated that India become at that point helping Sri Lanka with the IPKF deployed within side the Northern and Eastern elements combating the LTTE.
3500 Kms away from Male when this violent drama for power of a small though important island nation was unfolding, another seemingly normal day dawned for the Paratroopers at Agra. However, this was soon to change to an exciting, challenging and historical day. At around 1000h, Brig VP Malik (later COAS) the Deputy Director General of Military Operations (MO) called the Brigade Major of 50(1) Parachute Brigade, Maj ( later Lt Gen) Vinod Bhatia, giving the first indication of an impending operation. The instructions were crisp and military like with the urgency in the voice conveying the gravity of an emerging though uncertain situation. The Para Brigade was to move to an Island for operations. One company group to be standby to move at 6 hours notice and a battalion group at 12 hours notice. The Commander Para Brigade with one staff officer to move to MO directorate at Delhi by the evening (time not specified). The first reaction was that it was one more of the numerous moves of the Para Brigades Reconnaissance and Order group to Srilanka for another of those contingency plans for OP PAWAN
The next communication from Delhi was at 1040 hours. The Commander Brigadier FFC Bulsara was visiting the Army Airborne Training Area at Kheria and had been requested to fall back to the headquarter. The VCOAS Lt Gen (later COAS) Rodrigues spoke to the Brigade Major in the absence of the commander who was falling back to the brigade headquarters
With no one keeping watch over this point of entry, Indian troops landed, and quickly took control of the airport. They then made their way into the capital using commandeered boats and rescued President Gayoom, driving out the militants.
A small vessel with a group of mercenaries, and carrying hostages, managed an escape while the Indian troops advanced and took back the capital. The vessel’s escape, while well-timed, would not be successful.
Operation Cactus- A Successful Mission
The mission was concluded with no casualties to the Indian side, save for one soldier who reportedly shot himself in the foot, Simply Decoded added quoting Brewster’s book again.
Operation Cactus was testimony to the fact that India could play a role in ensuring security in Asia. India’s swift, decisive action was hailed by the international community, ranging from US President Ronald Reagan to Margaret Thatcher, Pragati added.
India received international praise for the operation. United States President Ronald Reagan expressed his appreciation for India’s action, calling it “a valuable contribution to regional stability”. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reportedly commented, “Thank God for India: President Gayoom’s government has been saved”. But the intervention nevertheless caused some disquiet among India’s neighbours in South Asia.
To remember the event in the country’s history, every 3 November MNDF personnel mark Nasruge Dhuvas or ‘Victory Day’ and remember their fallen comrades at a special memorial where an RPG-rocket-propelled grenade was fired by the mercenaries breaching the MNDF HQ in Bandaara Koshi, Male in 1988.
“The Indian Ocean is becoming more important by the day and India has vital stakes in its stability. The small island states in the area are vulnerable to the kind of threat that compelled India to send its paratroopers in 1988 on behalf and at the invitation of an elected government.
Looking back, the officials who played such an extraordinary role in the affair wonder why a more powerful and stronger India, twenty-eight years later, wouldn’t even dream of embarking on such a courageous adventure any more, why the kind of swift and perfect coordination between all arms of the government that took place on that day no longer seems to happen today.
On 03 Apr 1989, TIME magazine ran a cover story “Super Power Rising” stating “India asserts its place on the world stage”, consequent to the Indian Armed Forces unprecedented success in executing an intervention operations albeit at the request of a friendly government. Op Maldives launched to rescue President M A Gayoom, demonstrated Indian power and capability to be a ‘Net Security Provider’ in the region. The operations launched from a cold start and executed with surgical precision was successfully accomplished within 16 hours of the first indication of an impending operation, 3000 km from base. The cover story of time magazine by ROSS H Munro flags India’s growing military power.
Operation Cactus, Maldives, is undoubtedly one of the most professionally executed military operation in the world, right on top with the likes of operation Thunderbolt – Israeli raid on Entebbe, Otto Skorzeny’s rescue of Mussolini, the long range desert patrols of David Sterling (Phantom major) and Op Geronimo, the Abbottabad raid by US seals to neutralize Osama Bin Laden among a few others.
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