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Rajnath Visit to Indira Point, Strategic Signaling Says MOD

In a series of press releases the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi gave out the details of the visit of the defense minister Mr Rajnath Singh to the Andaman and Nicobar Command acronymed as CINCAN.

The press release projected this the visit has strategic signalling in terms of expansion and domination of the Indian Ocean region possibly with reference to expansion of presence of extra territorial navies mainly the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and assets of the Strategic Support Forces of the PLA such as the Yuan Wang series of survey vessels.

The press release on January 05 says that the Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh reviewed the operational preparedness of Andaman & Nicobar Command and infrastructure development at operational areas during his visit to the Headquarters on January 05, 2023.

Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) Lieutenant General Ajai Singh briefed the Raksha Mantri about the geo-strategic potential of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the role they can play towards enhancing India’s influence and support to military operations in the area.

He highlighted the significant role played by A&N Command in carrying forward Government’s Act East Policy and in realising the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) by building ‘Bridges of Friendship’ with the country’s maritime neighbours.

Shri Rajnath Singh also visited the ANC Joint Operations Centre (JOC) which is the nerve centre for integrated planning for surveillance, conduct of operations and logistic support.

On the second day of his two-day visit to Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh visited Indira Point, the southernmost tip of the country, on January 06, 2023 outlined another press release. He was accompanied by Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) Lieutenant General Ajai Singh.

Shri Rajnath Singh took stock of the defence preparedness and encouraged the troops to continue protecting the national interests in the region.

Indira Point is along the Great Channel, popularly referred to as the ‘Six Degree Channel’, which is a major shipping lane for international traffic.

A strong presence of the Armed Forces equips India to better discharge its responsibility of being a net security provider in the region as per the release.

En-route, the Raksha Mantri halted at the Car Nicobar Island and Campbell Bay where he was apprised about the ground conditions.

He also interacted with the joint services troops of Andaman and Nicobar Command there, lauding them for serving the country with unmatched bravery and commitment.

The Raksha Mantri was familiarised with the terrain of Southern Group of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He also paid a visit to INS Baaz and interacted with troops.

This is the first visit of the Raksha Mantri to Indira Point since January 2019.

Apart from the Strategic Signalling in view of proximity of these far-flung islands to the Indo-Pacific, the visit of Raksha Mantri to A&N Command motivated the troops deployed in these distant and remote islands the release stated.

Significance of Visit to Indira Point

The visit to Indira Point is significant as it is across Sabang port in Aceh province of Indonesia which is about 90 nautical miles from there. This comes even as India and Indonesia are expanding integrated dissuasion by establishing joint frameworks, dialogue and naval operational activities such as CORPAT or coordinated patrolling of the maritime boundary. Developing linkages between the Andaman and Nicobar Islands though economic and trade corridor also having a strategic import is part of the process.

India and Indonesia held the second edition of the Joint Task Force (JTF) meeting on development of connectivity between Andaman & Nicobar Islands (ANI) and Aceh Province, Indonesia took place in Port Blair on 19 December 2022.

The development of connectivity between ANI and Aceh is a key element of the Shared Vision of Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, agreed in May 2018 by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and President of Indonesia, Mr Joko Widodo.

The visit of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was an indicator of India’s growing interest in extension of arc of influence in the Indian Ocean Region and willingness to outline national objectives.


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