In a stern warning to those who threaten commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean region, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated on tuesday that India is committed to tracking down those responsible for the “recent drone attacks” on India-bound commercial ships “even from the deep sea” and will take strict action against them. The minister’s sharp comments were delivered in Mumbai, where he commissioned the newly developed stealth guided missile destroyer INS Imphal. This vessel is the country’s first warship named after a city in the north east and is the third of the four Visakhapatnam-class vessels. It was developed and designed by the Navy.
Following the attacks on merchant vessels MV Chem Pluto and MV Sai baba, the Indian Navy has deployed four state-of-the-art warships and surveillance aircraft to the Arabian Sea to safeguard commercial maritime traffic.
The defence minister termed INS Imphal, which is 75% indigenously made and has enhanced stealth capabilities and state-of-the-art equipment and weapons, as a symbol of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ (Self-Reliant India). along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, highlighted that the country’s growing economy and strategic power have attracted jealousy and hatred from some factions. The Government is taking the attacks on MV Chem Pluto in the Arabian Sea and MV Sai Baba in the Red Sea very seriously. “We will find those responsible for the recent attacks on merchant ships and take strict action against them. The perpetrators will be brought to justice, he asserted.
The defense minister stated that the government is “working with friendly countries” to ensure security in the Indian ocean region and to safeguard maritime trade.
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Defense minister Rajnath reiterated the Modi government’s commitment to giving equal emphasis to the modernization of all three services to protect national interests. He noted that while previous governments had focused primarily on land-based threats, the current administration recognizes the importance of maritime security With the Himalayas to the north and hostilities from Pakistan to the west. Most of India’s trade occurs by sea, making India an island nation from a “trade perspective.”
Navy Chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar mentioned that the navy has already commissioned four class 15B and 15A destroyers, as well as P8I surveillance aircraft, Dorniers, Sea Guardians, helicopters, and patrol vessels. These assets, along with the coordinated efforts of coastal states, are crucial in defending against threats.
Additionally, the maritime operations center of the western naval command is actively monitoring the situation across the Indian Ocean region, in close coordination with the Indian coast guard and all relevant authorities. Regarding the analysis of the explosives used in the attack on MV Chem Pluto, the Navy Secretary reported that debris had been recovered. “I don’t want to make any assumptions. Drone attacks can be launched from anywhere. We are analyzing them to determine the nature of these attacks,” he said.
Since November 19, there have been 30 drone and hacking attacks in the region, averaging approximately one attack per day. According to Admiral Kumar, frequency of attacks has significantly increased compared to previous years, where only four to five incidents occurred annually. “The increase in frequency is undeniable. He said, We have decided to take very strict measures to protect commercial ships.