Indian Navy Chief Sunil Lanba said on Wednesday that Maldives is a challenge for India at present, since its government is more inclined towards China, PTI reported. He said that diplomatic ties between New Delhi and Male are not yet normal.

In February, the Maldives government imposed a state of emergency after the country’s Supreme Court ordered it to release political prisoners. Hours after the emergency was declared on February 5, security forces stormed the Supreme Court complex and arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed. India condemned the government’s actions.

The police also arrested former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Subsequently, Gayoom appealed to India for help. The emergency was finally lifted on March 22 after 45 days.

However, Lanba, who was speaking at the Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi,
added that the Indian Navy has resumed patrolling the Maldives Exclusive Economic Zone and that India would continue to work with the country’s government.

Lanba also said that the proposed “quad” – an alliance between India, the United States, Japan and Australia to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region – does not involve a military dimension, the Hindustan Times reported.

Lanba said that countries part of the proposed quad, like Australia, were dependent on China for their economic well-being. “What do you think a military dimension will achieve?,” he asked. “India is the only country in the quad with a land border with China. In case of conflict, nobody will hold our hand.”