India News

Operation Cactus: How India helped Maldives thwart coup in 1988

In the intervening night between November 2 and 3, 1988, 200–300 armed mercenaries invaded the nation's capital, seizing strategic locations. 

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Coup Attempt

In November 1988, Maldivian and Tamil mercenaries, supported by businessman Abdullah Luthufi, tried to overthrow President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's government. 

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Maldives requests for India's help

In response to Gayoom's request, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi sent naval warships and paratroopers to the island nation. Operation Cactus started on the night of 3 November 1988.

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Swift Military action

Indian paratroopers and naval forces were deployed to Male, the capital of the Maldives, to neutralize the coup attempt.

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Successful Operation

The Indian intervention successfully thwarted the coup attempt, with insurgents killed, captured, or forced to flee, restoring President Gayoom's government to power.

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Indian Naval Ships

Training ship Tir, Frigate Godavari, Betwa, Rajput, Ranjit, Gomati, Trishul, Nilgiri, Kumbhir, Cheetah and fleet tanker Deepak sailed towards the Maldives.

Image credits: PIB

Hostages recused on November 8, 1988

In an official ceremony on November 8, President Gayoom received the recused hostages. The intervention further solidified India's ties with the Maldives.

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Strategic Significance

Operation Cactus's success reaffirmed India's commitment to neighboring security & stability, and its willingness to intervene militarily to counter regional threats to peace.

Image credits: Freepik
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