US violates India’s sovereignty, performs military exercise near Lakshadweep without permission

Ajeyo Basu

LAST UPDATED: April 9, 2021, 10:18 p.m.

New Delhi: The US has done such a thing, which can lead to sour relations with India. The 7th Fleet of the US Navy has stated that it has carried out the Freedom of Navigation operation within India’s Special Economic Zone in the Lakshadweep Islands without India’s permission.

After the statement came out, the Indian government is closely monitoring it. It does not allow India’s maritime security policy for such practices and requires approval.

“On April 7, the warship USS John Paul Jones demonstrated naval rights and freedom in Indian territory 130 nautical miles off Lakshadweep without obtaining permission from India,” said a statement by the US’s 7 Fleet Public Affairs. 

“This is in accordance with international laws. India’s assertion that the military has to be given prior information before military exercises or movements in its special economic zone does not match international laws,” the statement added.

The statement could complicate relations between the two countries, as the US is one of India’s closest strategic partners and both sides have opposed China’s maritime expansionism, particularly in the South China Sea. India and the United States conduct naval exercises throughout the year.

The statement said, “We conduct regular freedom of navigation operations (FONOP), as we have done in the past and will continue in the future. FONOPs are not about a country, nor are they making political statements.”

The 7th Fleet is the largest fleet of the US Navy. During the 1971 war, the US had sent a warship from the 7th fleet to the Bay of Bengal to put pressure on India.

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The EEZ of every coastal country extends 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores and has exclusive rights over all water resources including oil, natural gas and fish. Any military activity in the EEZ requires India’s permission.

Naval Chief Admiral Singh said in 2019 that if any other nation wants to carry out any activity in India’s EEZ, they will have to inform and seek permission. At that time a Chinese vessel had infiltrated into Indian waters near Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which was foiled. 

There was no official response from either the Indian Navy or the Ministry of External Affairs when this report was filed.

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