INS Imphal
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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff & Agencies 

New Delhi – In response to growing security concerns in the Red Sea, India has undertaken its largest deployment in the region, deploying at least a dozen warships to counter potential threats from pirates and escalating activities by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militants. While India has not joined the U.S.-led task force in the Red Sea, it has strategically positioned two frontline warships in the Gulf of Aden and deployed over 10 warships in the northern and western Arabian Sea, accompanied by surveillance aircraft, according to Indian officials.

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar emphasized that India’s expanding capabilities and vested interests justified its involvement in addressing challenging situations. “We will not be considered a responsible country when bad things are happening in the surrounding country and we say ‘I have got nothing to do with this,'” stated Jaishankar at a public event on Tuesday.

Indian military and defense officials revealed that naval personnel, including special commandos, have conducted inspections of more than 250 vessels and small boats in the last two months. This heightened vigilance comes as piracy has made a resurgence in the region after a six-year hiatus, with at least 17 incidents of hijacking, attempted hijacking, and suspicious approaches recorded by the Indian Navy since December 1.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, citing support for Palestinians in their conflict with Israel, have been targeting ships in the Red Sea since November. While a U.S.-led task force operates within the Red Sea to safeguard vessels, Indian officials assert that India’s naval presence in the region is the most extensive.

The conflict in the Red Sea has created a unique challenge for maritime security, with piracy incidents increasing. Indian experts highlight that Houthi activities and piracy are distinct issues but note that pirates are exploiting the situation, diverting attention from their actions. An anonymous navy official remarked, “Houthis and piracy are disconnected. But pirates are trying to use this opportunity as the West’s efforts are focused on the Red Sea.”

The Indian Navy’s efforts extend beyond anti-piracy measures, encompassing search and rescue operations. In recent weeks, the navy rescued two Iranian fishing vessels and assisted in the rescue of a Sri Lankan vessel. In December, it played a crucial role in aiding two merchant vessels targeted by aerial strikes near India’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Analysts believe that India’s proactive naval engagement underscores its commitment to regional security. Harsh Pant, a foreign policy expert at the Observer Research Foundation, stated that the Indian Navy is “increasingly showcasing the ability to protect not only its interests but also give confidence to regional players that it is willing and able to shoulder regional responsibility.” As India bolsters its naval presence, the evolving security dynamics in the Red Sea region remain a critical focal point for both diplomatic and strategic considerations.

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