Operation Cactus by Indian Armed Forces which saved Maldives freedom.

Operation Cactus, led by the Indian Armed Forces in 1988, to stop a group of Maldives mercenaries led by businessman Abdullah Rutufi, and armed mercenaries of the Tamil Elam People’s Liberation Organization (PLOTE), a separatist Tamil organization in Sri Lanka. It’s strategy was to overthrow the government in the Maldivian island republic.

Thier were two coup attempr done before 1988.The 1980 and 1983 coup attempts against President Maumoon Abdul Game were not considered serious, but the third coup attempt in November 1988 surprised the international community. About 80 armed PLOTE mercenaries boarded a speedboat from a Sri Lankan cargo ship hijacked in the capital Male before dawn. A similar number has previously invaded Male in the guise of a visitor. The mercenaries soon gained control of the capital. This includes major government buildings, airports, ports, television and radio stations. The mercenaries then marched to the presidential residence, where President Gayoom lived with his family. However, before they arrived at the presidential residence, President Gayoom was escorted to the Defense Minister’s house by a Maldivian national security forces. The Secretary of Defense then took the president to a safe home.

Meanwhile, the mercenaries occupied the presidential residence and managed to take the Maldivian Minister of Education hostage. President Gayoom called on Sri Lanka and Pakistan government to intervene in the military, but both refused to help because of lack of military power. The president then demanded Singapore’s intervention, but Singapore refused for the same reason. He then contacted the United States and was told that it would take a couple of days for the US military to reach the Maldives from the nearest military base in Diego Garcia, which was almost 1000 km away. The president then contacted Britain and who advised them to seek help from India. After that, President Gayoom sought help from the Indian government. India soon accepted their request and an emergency meeting was convened at the Secretariat Building in New Delhi. Within 16 hours of SOS, India was ready for thier missions.

Rejaul Karim Laskar, a member of India’s then ruling party, the Indian National Congress, said that intervention of India in coup d’etat was necessary because without India’s intervention, outsiders powers were tempted to intervene and establish base in the Maldives. . Therefore, India intervened through “Operation Cactus”. On the night of November 3, 1988, the Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft of the Indian Air Force took elements of the 50th Independent Parachute Regiment, the 6th Parachute Regiment Battalion, and the 17th Parachute Field Paratrooper Regiment under Brigadier General Farsala from Agra Air. He flew non-stop for over 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) and landed at Male International Airport on Hulhule Island. Indian Army paratroopers arrived in Hulhule nine hours after President Gayoom proceedings.

Indian paratroopers quickly secured an airfield and sailed to Male on a confiscated boat to rescue President Gayoom . Paratroopers handed over control of the capital to President Gayoom ‘s government within hours. Some of the mercenaries fled to Sri Lanka on a hijacked cargo ship. Those who could not arrive at the ship in time were immediately rounded up and handed over to the Maldivian armed Forces and government. According to reports, 19 people died in battle, most of them mercenaries. The dead included two hostages killed by mercenaries. And Operation Cactus took 18 hours for Indian Armed Forces from start to finish. Indian Navy frigate Godavari and Betwa intercepted a cargo ship off Sri Lanka and captured mercenaries. The swift intervention and accurate intelligence of the Indian Army was able to successfully subdue the coup attempted in the island nation.