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Indian Navy Commissions INS Jatayu In Lakshadweep: Here’s Why the New Strategic Naval Base Matters – News18

Last Updated: March 06, 2024, 16:09 IST

While the Andaman and Nicobar Island chain is well-equipped to tackle military challenges, Lakshadweep is not quite there yet. (PTI File Photo)

Indian Navy commissions INS Jatayu at Minicoy, marking a milestone in Lakshadweep’s security. Strengthening foothold in the region, enhancing operational reach and connectivity

Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar commissioned a new naval base at Minicoy on Wednesday, now named ‘INS Jatayu’, enhancing the country’s operational capabilities in the strategic Lakshadweep Islands.

Naval Detachment INS Jatayu will boost operational reach and facilitate the Indian Navy’s operational effort toward anti-piracy and anti-narcotics operations in the Western Arabian Sea. Commissioned under the command of Commandant Vrat Baghel, INS Jatayu is located on the southernmost Minicoy island, which straddles vital sea lines of communication. It is the second naval base in Lakshadweep after INS Dweeprakshak in Kavaratti.

Jatayu — ‘The First Responder’

Speaking at the gathering at Minicoy after the commissioning of INS Jatayu, Kumar said the unit was named after the mythical creature in the epic Ramayana who tried to stop the abduction of Sita. “In the Ramayana, Jatayu was the ‘first responder’, trying to stop the abduction of Sita ji, even to the peril of his own life, exemplifying service before self. So the naming of this unit as Jatayu is an apt recognition of this spirit of providing security surveillance and selfless service,” Kumar was quoted as saying by PTI. The navy chief said that the information Jatayu relayed to Lord Ram provided crucial situational awareness, leading to the successful quest that followed.

“Similarly, we expect that this unit will provide situational awareness to the Indian Navy in maintaining good maritime domain awareness of the entire region. INS Baaz to the east in the Andamans and now the INS Jatayu in the west will serve as eyes and ears to the Navy to safeguard our national interest,” he said. He said it was crucial to recognise the pressing need for heightened surveillance amidst the prevailing geopolitical developments, which underscores the strategic significance of Lakshadweep to India.

“The Indian Ocean region is witnessing an upsurge in maritime terror, crime, and piracy. The Indian Navy has responded with an assertive posture in the west and north Arabian Sea, undertaking anti-drone, anti-missile, and anti-piracy operations to safeguard merchant traffic in the region,” he said. Lakshadweep Island Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said that approval for an airstrip at Minicoy is in the final stages, and that the 24-hour operational chopper hanger at Kavaratti will start soon. He also said land has been allotted to set up a radar base in Lakshadweep for the Indian Air Force. Southern Naval Command chief Vice Admiral V Srinivas and Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Sanjay J Singh also took part in the event.

Why It Matters

Naval Detachment Minicoy was set up in early 1980s under the operational command of Naval Officer-in-Charge (Lakshadweep). Minicoy is the southernmost island of Lakshadweep which straddles the vital Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs). Basing of an independent Naval unit with requisite infrastructure and resources will enhance the overall operational capability of the Indian Navy in the islands.

Naval Officer-in-Charge (Lakshadweep) Captain Lovekesh Thakur said that since the island is located on traditional trade routes, it is strategically important.

“Because of the strategic location, specifically Minicoy, it is a place for gathering information on the shipping movement,” Thakur told PTI. He said since the island is on an important trade route, having a base with enhanced surveillance capabilities is of great importance to the country. It is basically a starting point to building a springboard for better deployment of units, Thakur added.

This development comes as ties between India and the Maldives have soured since the pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu took office last year, alongside the growing presence of the Chinese navy in the region. Since Lakshadweep is just 130km north of the Maldives, which has been tilting towards China, the new base will give further strength to India’s maritime forces. Moreover, it will also act as a counter to suspicious visits of Chinese research vessels, which have previously docked at a southern Sri Lankan port leased by Beijing.

(With agency inputs)

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