New Delhi: The 12 sq km Assumption Island in the outer Seychelles region in the Indian Ocean has become the focal point of a number of Seychellois protesters who are opposing the setting up of an Indian military base on environmental grounds.
Reacting to these protests, a top official in India's security and military establishment said on condition of anonymity: “We have been noting the protests. We are looking at them. But we talk to governments.”
Implicit in the official's response is that despite the protests, since the Assumption Island agreement is between two governments, the development of the island as a military site will continue.
While the January 27 agreement between Barry Faure, Seychelles secretary of state for foreign affairs, and S. Jaishankar, India's then foreign secretary, makes it clear that the Indian military will be on Assumption only at the Seychelles' request, such a “facility” will offer strategic advantage to India's growing ambition, specially in the backdrop of growing Chinese interest in the region as well as ability to combat sea piracy in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
Minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre said in a written reply in Parliament Monday: “Government is aware of China's stated objective of becoming a 'maritime power'.
As part of this strategy, China is developing ports and other infrastructure facilities in the littoral countries in the Indian Ocean region, including in the vicinity of India's maritime boundary”.
Assumption is just 40 km to the southwest from the Aldabra atoll, which is located 1,150 km southwest of Mahe, the capital of the Seychelles....