Operation Cactus

Operation Cactus

conflict=Operation Cactus

caption=An Indian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft that was used to paradrop Indian troops in Male.
date=November 3, 1988
result=Decisive Indian victory Government rule restored in Maldives
casus=PLOTE invades Maldives
combatant1=flagicon|India India
commander1=flagicon|India Rajiv Gandhi
commander2= Abdullah LuthufiPOW
casualties1=1 Wounded
casualties2=19 KIA

Operation Cactus: [ [http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/1990s/Cactus.html Operation Cactus - The IAF airlift into the Maldives ] ] In November 1988, the People's Liberation Front of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) comprising about 200 Tamil secessionists invaded Maldives. At the request of the President of Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Indian Armed Forces with active assistance of the Research and Analysis Wing launched a military campaign to fight the mercenaries out of Maldives.


Whereas the 1980 and 1983 coup attempts against Gayoom's presidency were not considered serious, the third coup attempt in November 1988 alarmed the international community. About 80 armed PLOTE mercenaries [ [http://www.ipcs.org/ipcs/databaseIndex2.jsp?database=1001&country2=Maldives Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies ] ] landed on Malé before dawn aboard speedboats from a freighter. Disguised as visitors, a similar number had already infiltrated Malé earlier. Although the mercenaries quickly gained the nearby airport on Hulele, they failed to capture President Gayoom, who fled from house to house and asked for military intervention from India, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi immediately dispatched 1,600 troops by air to restore order in Malé.

The Operation

Less than 12 hours after the request from President Gayoom, Indian paratroopers arrived on Hulele, causing some of the mercenaries to flee toward Sri Lanka in their freighter. The operation started on the night of November 3, 1988, as the Indian Air Force airlifted a parachute battalion group from Agra and flew them non-stop over 2,000 kilometres (1,240 mi) to Maldives. The Indian paratroopers landed at Hulule and secured the airfield and restored the Government rule at Malé within hours. Those unable to reach the ship in time were quickly rounded up. Nineteen people reportedly died in the fighting, and several taken hostage also died. Three days later an Indian Navy frigate captured the mercenaries on their freighter near the Sri Lankan coast. Swift operation by the military and precise intelligence information quelled the insurgency in the island nation.


In July 1989, a number of the mercenaries were returned to Maldives to stand trial. Gayoom commuted the death sentences passed against them to life imprisonment under Indian pressure [ [http://www.photius.com/countries/madagascar/government/madagascar_government_security_concerns.html Madagascar Security Concerns - Flags, Maps, Economy, History, Climate, Natural Resources, Current Issues, International Agreements, Population, Social Statistics, Political System ] ] .

The 1988 coup had been headed by a once prominent Maldivian businessperson named Abdullah Luthufi, who was operating a farm on Sri Lanka. Ex-president Ibrahim Nasir denied any involvement in the coup. In fact, in July 1990, President Gayoom officially pardoned Nasir in absentia in recognition of his role in obtaining Maldives' independence.

The operation also strengthened Indo-Maldivian relations as a result of the successful restoration of the Gayoom government.

See also

* Parachute Regiment (India)


External links


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