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US Navy Fleet enters India’s Exclusive Economic Zone without permission

US Navy publicly declared it conducted “freedom of navigation operations” in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) near Lakshadweep

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Consider the analogy that you live in a two-story building. The law of the land limits your region of sovereignty to the boundaries of your dwelling and extending any rulership beyond is an encroachment of the rights of the people who live around you. However, under certain limits, the government does allow you to erect by-laws when it comes to the passage of heavy vehicles in the private road leading up to your colony.

And the by-laws you have erected state that no heavy vehicles – trucks or the like – cannot pass by without prior consent of you. For example, trucks carrying mail or delivery items are allowed to come in as long as a call has been made in advance regarding the package’s delivery.

Similar to the private road in your area, every country with a coastline has what is known as an ‘exclusive economic zone’ expanding to a region of 200 nautical miles beyond the country’s coastline. In this region, the passage of warships and other types of heavy boats is closely monitored and requires the prior consent of the main country before it is done.

However on Friday, in a highly unusual move, a US destroyer fleet entered these waters without prior notice to the Indian Government, raising eyebrows in the mainland and causing a mild note of distress within the populace. What did the United States want? One was forced to wonder.

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In an official statement issued shortly after the incident, the US clarified and asserted that India’s requirement of prior consent before the entry of any water-transport and military ships within the EEZ was unjustified and to quote it directly, ‘inconsistent with international law’.

Furthermore, it said that this Freedom of Navigations Operation (or FONOP) challenged India’s excessive marine by-laws and upheld the freedom to traverse the waters with ease.

“FONOPs are not about the country, nor about making political statements.” the official US statement said.

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Speculations arose this was a threat to India, or a hint of disapproval at China as well, due to the latter’s aggressive territorial acquisition around the world.

On April 9, BJP member Subramaniam Swamy tweeted out the official statement, leaving us all to wonder, that territorial disputes aside, what was Mr. Swamy thinking?

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