Fact Box: Operation Lal Dora

image India planned ‘Operation Lal Dora’ in 1983 to prevent coup in Mauritius

India, during the regime of Indira Gandhi in 1983, had planned top secret military intervention-“Operation Lal Dora” to help the then Mauritian Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth fight off a challenge from his radical rival Paul Berenger which New Delhi feared might take the form of an attempted coup. With this operation India wanted to ensure an Indian-origin Prime Minister remained in power there.

As per Operation Lal Dora, Indian Navy and Army were to land troops to the island nation to thwart any possible coup. The plan also included the deployment of major naval assets including as many as six destroyers with Alouette helicopters and MK 42C Sea Kings for slithering operations.
However, Mrs. Gandhi put on hold the military part of the operation due to differences between the the Navy and the Army over who would lead the intervention. Instead, she chose to task the Research and Intelligence Wing’s then chief, Nowsher F. Suntook, with supervising a largely intelligence-led operation to reunite the Indian community whose fracturing along ideological and communal lines had allowed Mr. Berenger to mount a political challenge. India’s overall intervention became successful and Anerood Jugnauth stayed as PM for more than a decade.

Though eventually aborted, Operation Lal Dora has a special significance today because of the Indian strategic community’s focus on promoting the Indian Navy’s role in the wider neighborhood, especially the Indian Ocean.

India’s other military interventions in the India Ocean:

  • ‘Operation Flowers are Blooming’: India’s first military intervention in the Indian Ocean, first with INS Vindhyagiri helping to abort a coup in the Seychelles in 1986
    ‘Operation Cactus’:  In 1988 when commandos and naval ships were rushed to the Maldives after Sri Lankan Tamil militants sought to remove the then President, Abdul Gayoom.



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