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Rajnath visits key Indian Ocean chokepoint during visit to Andaman and Nicobar islands

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at Indira Point, India's southernmost tip, during his visit to Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Friday (Images courtesy: PIB/Ministry of Defence)

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday visited Indira Point, the southernmost tip of the country, before concluding his two-day visit to the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Singh, accompanied by Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) Lieutenant General Ajai Singh, took stock of the defence preparedness and encouraged the troops to continue protecting the national interests in the region.

Indira Point is along the Great Channel, popularly referred to as the ‘Six Degree Channel’, which is a major shipping lane for international traffic. A strong presence of the Armed Forces equips India to better discharge its responsibility of being a net security provider in the region.

Not far from Indira point is South Bay. India has taken a decision to fast-track the construction of a world-class trans-shipment hub at South Bay.

Located on the eastern wing of the Great Nicobar island, it will string with other mega-sized deep water transhipment ports – Dubai, Colombo, Klang in Malaysia, and Singapore — along the great east-west shipping route.

The South Bay port’s strategic importance is obvious. It is close to the six-degree channel, an incredibly important global shipping lane, which feeds into the Malacca straits—a major choke point that links the Indian and Pacific oceans. The Malacca straits is the heartbeat of trade with the Indo-Pacific, the fastest-growing region in the world on either side of the channel.

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India’s decision to beef up security near the six-degree channel has a message for China, which transits a large number of its commercial ships through the channel as part of its international trade.

During his stay, Singh was familiarised with the terrain of the Southern Group of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and also paid a visit to INS Baaz and interacted with troops.

Situated at a distance of about 300 nm from Port Blair, the strategic INS Baaz Naval Air Station located at Campbell Bay on the Great Nicobar Island, is the southernmost air station of the Indian armed forces overlooking the Strait of Malacca.

During the course of the day the defence minister halted at the Car Nicobar Island and Campbell Bay where he was apprised about the ground conditions. He also interacted with the joint services troops of Andaman and Nicobar Command there, lauding them for serving the country with unmatched bravery and commitment.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, on Thursday, Singh visited the Headquarters of Andaman and Nicobar Command in Port Blair where he reviewed the operational preparedness of the Command and infrastructure development at operational areas.

This is his first visit to Indira Point since January 2019. Apart from the Strategic Signalling in view of the proximity of these far-flung islands to the Indo-Pacific, the Defence Minister’s visit to A&N Command motivated the troops deployed in these distant and remote islands. It is pertinent to mention that A&N Command is a 21-year-old successful Integrated Theatre Command which is now being planned at the national level.

Also Read: Rajnath’s visit to Andaman and Nicobar Command after Arunachal signals India’s resolve to deter China