All about Operation Cactus 1988


About Operation Cactus: In 1988, there was a political unrest and a coup attempt unfolded in the Maldives. A Maldivian businessman, Abdullah Luthufi, and a group of Maldivian militants, supported by mercenaries, attempted to overthrow the government of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The insurgents quickly captured key installations in the capital, Male. It was believed that Abdullah Luthufi got indirect support from the LTTE.

Maldives President Gayoom requested military support from America and Britain. Though they agreed to support, their troops could only reach the island after 3 days. As suggested by the British Prime minister to seek help from India, with no second thought President Gayoom made a formal request to India for assistance. India quickly responded to his request and then Prime minister Rajeev Gandhi held an emergency meeting with the officials and agreed to support the Maldives. India launched Operation Cactus on November 3, 1988 for this help. The Indian Air Force quickly deployed transport aircraft carrying around 1,600 paratroopers from the 50th Independent Parachute Brigade. Simultaneously, the Indian Navy moved to secure the area.

The Indian paratroopers landed at Hulhule, the island’s airport, and rapidly secured it, paving the way for additional troops and supplies to be flown in. The Indian Navy played a crucial role by ensuring control of the sea routes around the Maldives.

The swift and decisive intervention by Indian forces not only prevented the coup but also helped restore order in the Maldives. The operation was executed with precision, and the Indian military withdrew shortly after stabilizing the situation, having fulfilled its objective under this operation.

Operation Cactus is often cited as an example of successful military intervention to support its neighboring country in times of crisis. It showcases India’s commitment to regional stability and demonstrated its capability for rapid response to security challenges in the South Asian region.

Operation Cactus

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