How Indian Navy averted a Coup in Seychelles?

Discussion in 'Indian Navy' started by afako, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. afako

    afako Regular Member

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    Operation Flowers Are Blooming

    India had taken an active security role in the Indian Ocean since the mid 1980s. In 1986, India's security role in Seychelles crystallised over a series of coup attempts against President René led by the Seychelles Minister of Defence, Ogilvy Berlouis. Many of the details of these coup attempts remain unclear, perhaps because more than one coup was apparently being organised at the time. According to some reports, the Berlouis plot, codenamed Operation Distant Lash, involved some 30 mercenaries and 350 Seychellois (although Indian sources believe this was an overestimate). Some claim that it had the support of South African intelligence and of prominent anti-communists in Washington. Berlouis had been invited to the Pentagon in 1985 and, according to one report some in the US security establishment saw Berlouis as a potential future president of the islands, recognising in him an ambitious man with no ideological baggage despite his tenure of a senior post of the René government. However, it seems that there was some ambivalence in the Reagan administration about any moves against René, fearing that Seychelles could be destabilised by the installation of a new leader. Since the 1981 attempted coup, René had mended fences with South Africa and the United States: he was increasingly viewed as someone who they could work with and in late 1985 had agreed to extend the US lease on the satellite tracking station.

    Nevertheless, in early June 1986, Berlouis and his co-conspirators decided to move against René. When New Delhi was informed of an impending coup by either Indian or Soviet sources, Prime Minister Gandhi (who was also Minister of Defence) and the junior Defence Minister, Arun Singh, personally contacted the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral RH Tahiliani, with a verbal request to provide assistance to René. Coincidentally, the Indian Navy had already dispatched the INS Vindhyagiri under Captain S. Ramsagar on a scheduled visit to Seychelles to participate in Seychelles Independence Day celebrations. It was decided that on arrival Vindhyagiri would report an engineering defect requiring an extended stay in Port Victoria. The Director of Naval Intelligence and Director of Naval Operations then briefed a Commodore who was sent to the Seychelles on a commercial airline to command the operation and ostensibly take charge of repairing the ship. A local engineering company was also enlisted to make some minor repairs. An Indian Navy "engineering" team of 20 sailors trained in weapons was readied for dispatch to Port Victoria, although their presence was not ultimately required. The Indian Navy gave the operation the codename Flowers Are Blooming.

    In the meantime, René repaired to the Presidential Palace under the protection of his 50-strong North Korean bodyguard while the INS Vindhyagiri remained at Port Victoria for 12 days, making great use of its Sea King to provide public displays of helicopter commando "slithering" and assaults. The ship regularly trained its 4.5 inch gun on power mode as a demonstration to the coup plotters. Also present in Port Victoria was a Soviet Turya class patrol boat, the Zoroaster, which was due to be handed over to the Seychelles. The Zoroaster's captain was junior in rank to the Vindhyagiri's captain. At one stage the Zoroaster left Port Victoria on patrol in response to a report that two Royal Naval vessels intended to enter the port in support of the planned coup. By mid June the planned coup had been averted. Seychellois authorities - with the likely assistance of Indian security services - arrested six men (but not Berlouis). Indian sources believe that the presence of an Indian naval vessel made a significant contribution to averting a coup. As a former Indian intelligence officer who was in the Seychelles during the period commented, the Indian naval presence "served the purpose."

    Two months later Berlouis made another attempt to unseat President René which India again helped to quash. The plot was uncovered in late August while President René was attending a meeting of the Non Aligned Movement in Harare with Rajiv Gandhi and other leaders of non-aligned states. René may have been told of the planned coup by the South African security services whose strategy was cultivating all sides in Seychelles with a view to cementing its own influence. According to another report, René was personally informed about the plot by Rajiv Gandhi who had been tipped off by the Soviets. Gandhi lent René his own plane, Air India 001, to return to Seychelles early. According to one report on 6 September René, disguised as an Indian woman wearing a sari, was met at the airport by the Indian High Commissioner and taken to the Commissioner's residence. Berlouis and other plotters were then tracked to the island of Praslin. Berlouis and four other army officers were forced to resign and Berlouis left for London. The Indian ship INS Godavari, which was then returning to India from New York after taking part in centenary celebrations for the Statue of Liberty, was diverted to Port Victoria, although it only arrived on 24 September and departed several days after. It was reported that in October 1986, some 50 Soviet troops were landed by the Soviet amphibious vessel the Ivan Rogov, to provide additional security to René.

    India's interventions cemented India's role in the Seychelles. In 1989, India established the Seychelles Defence Academy and continues to play an important role in Seychelles' security. Although India lost some of its assertiveness in the region in the wake of the Sri Lankan debacle, since the turn of the century it has been actively re-establishing its security role in the Indian Ocean. Today, India has close security relationships with many states in the southwest Indian Ocean, including Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar and Mozambique, which form an important part of India's broader strategy in the Indian Ocean.

    Conclusion

    Operation Flowers Are Blooming was the first demonstration of the Indian Navy's capability to influence political events throughout the Indian Ocean, far from the navy's traditional area of operations in South Asia. It showed that the navy could be used to project power effectively, at long distance, and with relative discretion. Naval diplomacy by the Indian Navy has been used to great effect in recent years. The success of the Seychelles operation may also have given the Rajiv Gandhi government confidence that it could execute low cost military interventions in its Indian Ocean neighbours, including its decision to intervene in Sri Lanka in July 1987 and it successful intervention in the Maldives in November 1988. That the Sri Lanka intervention was ultimately disastrous for the Indian Army, Rajiv Gandhi, and of course Sri Lanka, is a reminder of the risks involved in such actions.

    India Defence Update: Article
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
    bhramos, maomao, W.G.Ewald and 3 others like this.
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  3. afako

    afako Regular Member

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    Seems the Queenie was interested in a Coup and India trashed their Plans.:namaste:
     
  4. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Thanks for sharing..

    Interesting read..
     
    W.G.Ewald likes this.
  5. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

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    north koreans were there india was there..soviets were there. indian relationship with communist were more than thought of.
     
  6. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

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    but it was a golden age for Communists and India until the fall of USSR......
     

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