Male (PTI): The second group of Indian military personnel operating a helicopter has left the Maldives on April 9 under a bilateral agreement with India, President Mohamed Muizzu has announced. Muizzu announced this on Friday while speaking during a campaign event for ruling party candidates ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for later this month.

"The first team has already gone. Now, on April 9, the soldiers on the second platform have also been withdrawn," Muizzu was quoted as saying by the local media. The agreement between Maldives and India is to replace the Indian military personnel stationed in Maldives to oversee the operations of the military aircraft the country has gifted with trained civilians also from India.

Muizzu, a pro-China leader, added that the Indian soldiers on the last platform would also leave the Maldives before May 10 and that would mark the fulfillment of his pledge to remove Indian soldiers from the island nation. "There is only one platform left. As the two countries have already signed, they [the remaining Indian military personnel] will also be recalled ahead of May 10. They will leave," Muizzu was quoted as saying by Edition.mv news portal. "So that pledge is fulfilled, isn't it? All foreign military here will leave before May 10. So any pledge I make, I will work to fulfill to the greatest extent", he said.

He did not provide any details and did not clarify whether the soldiers had been replaced by Indian civilians. Neither the Maldives Defense Ministry nor India have commented on the latest withdrawal of Indian military personnel from this country.

According to the Maldives government, 88 Indian soldiers were stationed in the Maldives to operate helicopters in Addu and Laamu Kadhdhoo and a Dornier aircraft in Hanimaadhoo. The figure also includes doctors at the Senahiya military hospital. The first group of Indian soldiers left the Maldives on March 11. The Defence Ministry said 26 soldiers based in Addu were replaced by 26 Indian civilians. India also replaced the old helicopter in Addu with a new one.

Relations between Maldives and India have deteriorated since Muizzu came to power in November last year while closer ties are maintained with China. He also travelled to China in January and met top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping. China and the Maldives recently signed a defence cooperation agreement and several other infrastructure development projects.

The Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in its initiatives like ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ of the Narendra Modi government.

 

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New Delhi (PTI): The BJP on Friday moved the Supreme Court, challenging a Calcutta High Court order that refused to interfere with a single-judge verdict directing the party not to publish any advertisement violating the Model Code of Conduct during the Lok Sabha election process.

The matter was mentioned for urgent listing before a vacation bench of Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice Pankaj Mithal.

Advocate Saurabh Mishra, who mentioned the matter, told the bench that a division bench of the high court passed the order on May 22.

"Why don't you move the next vacation bench?," the bench asked.

The counsel told the bench that the high court has restrained the BJP from issuing advertisements during the Lok Sabha polls till June 4.

"Kindly have it on Monday (May 27)," the lawyer requested the bench.

"We will see," the bench said.

On May 22, a Calcutta High Court division bench refused to interfere with a single-judge order in the matter.

Observing that a "laxman rekha" should be adhered to, the division bench had said there should not be any personal attack on the part of any political party.

Refusing to interfere with the May 20 order of the single judge, the division bench had said the BJP could move the single judge, seeking a review or recall of its order.

The BJP had moved the appeal before the division bench, claiming that the single judge passed the order without giving it any hearing.

The party's counsel had also stated that the Constitution provided that the Election Commission was the appropriate authority for redress in case of any dispute during a poll process.

The high court on May 20 issued an injunction, restraining the BJP from publishing advertisements that violated the Model Code of Conduct until June 4, the day the Lok Sabha election process ends.

The court also restrained the BJP from publishing advertisements mentioned by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in its petition, claiming unverified allegations against it and its workers.