If you are someone who is hailed as a peacemaker, then trust me, you will be called a hero. However, when you analyze the damage that heroism does to you, you would never choose that path in life. This is where Nehru faltered. He failed to check the excesses of India’s goodwill gesture. Nehru’s quest to get personal appreciation ended up creating scars on the civilization state. Kashmir dispute and Aksai are not the only disasters. Today, we will talk about one more such disaster.
Do you know Andaman and Nicobar islands are part of India? Right? Well yes, but not wholly. There is a portion of the Andaman Group of islands that do not fall under Indian jurisdiction. These are called Coco islands. Geographically, it holds very strategic significance for India. The island is located 1255 km southeast of Kolkata in the Bay of Bengal.
Another one of Nehru’s blunders
The single most reason it is not under Indian administration is Nehru. 2 centuries ago, Andaman islands were part of penal territories for Britishers. They used to send their hardened criminals to survive on these islands, away from civil society, so they could not disturb the ‘civilized world’. Great Coco and Little Coco acted as a source of food for them. When India got freedom in 1947, Britishers wanted to maintain their hold on these territories. Being a leader of politically independent India, Nehru was asked about it. He thought of it as barren land and told Britishers to maintain their hold on it.
No one knows who advised Nehru against the idea of getting Coco islands under Indian sovereignty, maybe he bypassed the advisory of wise individuals in his proximity, but the extent of damage, misuse of Coco islands can do to India is colossal. When Britishers realized that they do not have enough manpower to control the island, it was transferred to modern-day Myanmar.
China is monitoring India from the Coco islands
According to various news reports, Myanmar leased Coco islands to the Chinese in 1994. Though, as usual, China keeps denying it, further developments do not corroborate Chinese claims. Geographically, Cocoa is very close to port cities of India such as Chennai, Kolkata, Vizag, and of course Andaman and Nicobar islands under Indian administration.
Now, all these places are strategically important for India. By placing monitoring equipments on the island, Indian naval and missile launch facilities in Andaman and Nicobar Islands can easily be monitored. The movements of the Indian Navy and other navies throughout the eastern Indian Ocean are also easy to keep an eye on from Coco Islands. ISRO’s rocket launch center, Satish Dhawan Space Centre is also not far from here. It is just 100 km north of Chennai. Additionally, Sriharikota and DRDO’s Chandipur facilities are also in close proximity and China monitors all launches which are undertaken in Sriharikota by ISRO.
And mind you, China is proactive in its initiatives. Reports of Chinese military officers visiting Coco islands started to surface around the mid-90s. Various media reports have time and again claimed that China has built runways, Radome, and other military infrastructure in the region. Additional Radar and signal intelligence services are also said to be continuously monitoring Indian territory from the region. Various experts including Colonel Vinayak Bhat in 2016 and Namrata Goswami of IDSA in 2014 have talked about the issue.
No Geography is barren
Now, you see the damage that was done to India. Nehru’s blunder of wholeheartedly accepting opposition demands had almost seceded Kashmir and most parts of the Northeast from India. In fact, due to not taking timely action, uncountable Hindus died in order to get Hyderabad into India. Even the regions like Kashmir remained alienated due to crookery like Article 370 until PM Modi abrogated it.
It turns out that no territory is barren(Aksai Chin) when it comes to geopolitical interests. A country needs to strive toward getting as much land as it can in order to secure the safety of future generations. This is where Nehru failed massively.
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