Operation Cactus


  • 35 years after the fact, India’s intervention in the 1988 coup attempt in Malé — codenamed Operation Cactus — continues to be remembered with gratitude and fondness.

A decade of coups

  • Maldives lies to the south-west of the Indian mainland, with its capital Malé slightly more than 600 km away from Thiruvananthapuram.
  • It comprises nearly 1,200 low-lying coral islands sprawled across 90,000 sq km in the Indian Ocean.
  • The 1988 coup was the brainchild of Maldivian businessman Abdullah Luthufee and Ahmed “Sagaru” Nasir, supported by Uma Maheswaran, leader of the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), a militant Lankan Tamil organisation.
  • As the coup unfolded, SOS messages were sent to countries across the world.

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