Hyderabad: Even after three decades, efforts of Operation Cactus by the Indian Armed Forces to rescue an incumbent government in Maldives through timely military intervention remains one of India’s most daring military operations, said Group Captain Ashok K Chordia (Retd).

Commemorating India’s Airborne Operation in Maldives on November 3 and 4, 1988 on its 30th anniversary organised by Social Cause here on Sunday, Chordia said Operation Cactus proved the prowess of the Indian Military and the diplomatic corps.

It was on November 3, 1988, a coup attempt was made in the Maldives by a group of Maldivians led by Abdullah Luthufi, a businessman that sent the then President Maumoon Adbul Gayoom into hiding.

Seeking military operations, Male flashed SOS messages to the US, UK, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. While others took time to decide, India responded promptly with action. Subsequently, Operation Cactus was launched in support of Gayoom and the task was accomplished in just 24 hours.

Recalling the efforts of Indian troops, Chordia said that IAF airlifted the paratroops of Indian Army who rescued Gayoom and secured the islands. India Navy chased the fleeing rebels on the high seas and forced them to surrender.

Success of Operation Cactus projected India as an emerging regional power and a force to reckon with. “Quick decisions, coordination among services and diplomatic corps, free hand to field commanders and out of the box thinking mattered in accomplishing the operation”, he said.

The decision to launch an airborne operation more than 2,500 km away in the Maldives was a difficult politico-military choice, said Chordia adding that it was a race against time, the India troops had to reach Gayoom before the rebels.