India’s Agalega

9 septembre 2023, 11:13


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According to the latest information from military sources in India, the latter has completed construction of “its overseas military base” on Agalega Island (read beside). The facility features a deep-sea port and a 3-km runway, capable of accommodating destroyers, frigates, fighter jets, and naval surveillance aircraft like the P-8I. Indian military leaders are confident that this development will bolster India’s maritime awareness in a region previously considered a blind spot for the Indian Navy. The base is especially important for supporting India’s P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, which perform a range of missions including anti-submarine warfare and intelligence gathering. “In peacetime, these aircraft serve as vital platforms for conducting routine surveillance missions in the vast Indian points with airfields and refueling facilities are essential, making facilities like those on North Agalega Island highly valuable,” underscores the Indian Defence Research Wing in a recent paper on Agalega. The base complements other facilities in the Nicobar Islands, further enhancing India’s maritime surveillance capabilities.

Few years ago, Mauritius’ Agalega was more of a dreamlike archipelago comprising two islands. The archipelago was first discovered in 1501 by Jean de Nova, a Galician serving Portugal. The South Island, known as “Pear Island” for its shape, is quieter and cooler than its northern counterpart. With only primary school, the South Island is a serene haven, home to historical sites like an old prison and two segregated cemeteries. Its tranquility is punctuated by the distant sound of waves hitting the Wa Jao, a shipwreck from 1933.

Meanwhile, the bustling North Island, locally dubbed Tamarin Island, houses 150 residents. New homes with red roofs populate Village 25, which serves as the administrative center for Fourche village, while the majority live in relatively new homes. Local lore suggests that the village was a historical site where rebellious slaves were flogged. Medical facilities are sparse, with only a nurse available for emergencies; more serious cases are airlifted to Mauritius, but the return remains uncertain. Agalega risks a similar fate as the Chagos archipelago. Winston Churchill once said that “those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it...”