Operation Lal Dora: When India tried to become the US of Asia

lal doraHegemony is a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy which springs from its strategic thought; it wants to subjugate its neighbors by fostering good ties with neighbors’ neighbors thus encircling the countries around. It loves projection of force and always tries to play the role of regional policeman. It has locked Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka with the Indian security system through various treaties and agreement. It fanned, fueled and funded LTTE insurgency in Sri Lanka. It is assisting insurgencies in Balochistan. It is fighting a proxy war in Pakistan through Afghan intelligence by arming and assisting TTP terrorists. While Bangladesh and Maldives are not formally linked with Indian security system, but for all practical purposes, both states are included in Indian strategic planning. Bangladesh owes its establishment to RAW of India and present regime, as that of Sh Mujeeb, are no more than Indian stooges. Everyone knows that Pakistan’s break-up was the first major assignment given to RAW who successfully enlisted Pakistani politicians including Mujeeb to cooperate. Agartala conspiracy was no work of fiction, it has now been proven as historical realities. West Pakistani politicians notably Bhutto, blocked any legal action for petty politics thus further emboldening RAW and Mujeeb. Maldives is indebted to India for its successful effort to foil a coup attempt in November 1988. Although India’s neighbors normally avoid any public commitment to the Indian security system, their own security policies are invariably developed in such way that reflects that the Indian sensitivities are accorded full attentions.

To India’s discomforts, Pakistan has not so far been cowed down. According to Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, India is the only country that has repeatedly sent its forces to neighboring countries. Apart from Pakistan with which it has fought so many wars and brutal suppression in Kashmir which it considers as its own part, the Indian forces have been sent to invade East Pakistan, to rescue the regime in Maldives, and to assist Sri Lankan authorities in dealing with Tamil insurgents.

But India’s hegemonic designs are not restricted to its neighbors alone. It has plans to go beyond its territorial water and invade countries in the Indian Ocean. India takes the advantage of its name and treats the sea at its own lake. In this, it aspires to fit itself into the shoes of Britain, USSR and the US. India had once ventured into military intervention in a country situated as far away as Mauritius. According to an article carried by The Diplomat reveals that India planned an aborted 1983 military intervention in Mauritius. This suggests that India is capable of thinking big about expeditionary operations, and that New Delhi will be far from a passive player in the contested Indian Ocean theatre. To India’s mixed record of foreign adventures, actual and contemplated – from Sri Lanka and East Pakistan, to Seychelles and the Maldives – must now be added the story of Operation Lal Dora.

According to credible research, Indira Gandhi’s government began serious planning for an armed intervention to prevent a feared coup to against India-friendly Anerood Jugnauth government in Mauritius. An army battalion was actually mobilized and moved from Hyderabad to Mumbai, though never embarked; inconveniently, the navy had not been told to expect them. The plan was aborted because Indian army felt it did not have necessary wherewithal to successfully carry out operation.

But India has learned a great deal from the abortive plan as it has not abandoned the idea of expanding its sphere of influence. It has started thinking bigger and today China (combined with Pakistan) preoccupies Indian strategic thinking.  The report says that India’s maritime security interests are now also entwined with a critical dependence on seaborne energy supplies. Moreover, the growing presence of Indian economic entities and Indian nationals in sometimes unstable foreign lands, combined with the influential Indian media’s outrage whenever an Indian national gets into strife overseas, means that pressures will only grow for the Indian government to deploy all the means at its disposal to protect Indian interests and honor abroad. Gradually India is building a credible amphibious capability, as well as workable security partnerships with a widening range of nations. So next time an Indian leader just might get a response when he or she asks the military brass for options to protect interests beyond the subcontinent.

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