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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Missed Rescue Operation

Shishir Gupta reveals in IE that Navy sought permission for a mission to rescue kidnapped Indians by Somali pirates before it started naval patrol in Gulf of Aden and along coast of Somali to thwart piracy. Unfortunately, UPA government did not agree to the mission. The strategic implication of a successful extraction mission of kidnapped desis by Bharatiya Navy, from eastern African coast, thousands of miles away from the country would have been unthinkable compared to the response INS Tabar's action has enabled.

The Tabar action appears to have been carefully calibrated; the foreign ministry had earlier shot down a navy proposal to launch a commando mission to rescue the largely Indian crew on board the Stolt Valor, a Japanese merchant ship hijacked by pirates on September 15. South Block apparently did not agree with the navy on intervention; it was a case, after all, of a Japanese ship in Somalia’s territorial waters. However, that same day in October, Defence Minister A.K. Antony cleared the navy’s twin proposals: patrolling international waters from Salalah in Oman to the Gulf of Aden, and urgently exploring the possibilities for joint patrols with other countries.