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Updated: February 9, 2012 23:08 IST

India played neutral as Nasheed's men sought military intervention

Sandeep Dikshit
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The smooth transition of power to Mohammed Waheed Hassan in the Maldives comes as a big relief to India, as New Delhi is not ready to repeat the 1988
AP The smooth transition of power to Mohammed Waheed Hassan in the Maldives comes as a big relief to India, as New Delhi is not ready to repeat the 1988 "Operation Cactus"

Fearing for the personal liberty of the deposed Maldives President, Mohamed Nasheed, close aides said some of his Ministers had sought Indian military assistance when the “coup” was under way on Tuesday but none came.

“Some Cabinet Ministers told us that India had gunboats in the vicinity and would intervene,” Mr. Nasheed's aides told The Hindu from an undisclosed location as they feared arrest.

But highly placed sources here claimed that India played a neutral role in the squabble. “We made it clear to all those who came to us that this was for the Maldivians to sort out among themselves,” they said.

In fact, the then Foreign Minister sought refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male while violence was raging there but was talked out of it and taken away by his party people, revealed the sources.

Other Indian officials said there was no “serious proposal” from the Maldivian government though some Ministers did tell the Indian High Commissioner that “things were hotting up” and some sort of help might be required.

New Delhi is very clear that it would have found itself in the soup and even opposition parties would have turned against it had Indian commandos thrust themselves in what was a largely political dispute among the Maldivians themselves.

“This is certainly not 1988,” the sources said, in reference to “Operation Cactus” launched by the Indian army and navy after businessmen Lutfee hired Tamil mercenaries from Sri Lanka to depose the then President, Abdul Gayoom. “There was some violence which has stopped and they are sorting it out by themselves. Imagine what the reaction would have been had the Indian military intervened in these circumstances.”

Asked whether Mr. Gayoom's men displaying liquor bottles suggested that a case was being made to put Mr. Nasheed in jail, officials here said the basic aim of the Maldives' near neighbours would be to ensure that the new government took complete responsibility of the law and order situation. Meaning, no harm should come to Mr. Nasheed or any member of his government.

“Such demands are made in such a situation but we have been given to understand that the parties have agreed not to try or prosecute Nasheed or his supporters,” the sources said adding, “at no stage will we be brokering for one side or the other.”

But Mr. Nasheed's aides spoke of uncertainty and fear after his advisor Zaki was badly beaten up along with two parliamentarians of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). One MP, they said, was still missing. Mr. Zaki is a familiar figure to those who have known Mr. Nasheed when he was building up international acceptability for himself before challenging Mr. Gayoom for President through the ballot.

‘Resignation at gunpoint'

Giving an eyewitness account of how Mr. Nasheed was forced to quit, the aides said a few minutes to noon on Tuesday, they saw a fleet of unmarked military cars arrive at the Presidential House. Mr. Nasheed got out surrounded by military men, some of them armed. He had a quick meeting with Ministers and was then “forced to resign with a gun pointed to his head.” He was escorted out by the military and in an hour, Vice-President Waheed, who had been making “strange statements” since midnight, became President.

The aides feared that Mr. Gayoom's men, including half-brother Abdulla Yameen and the former security officer, Umar Naseer, were plotting to imprison Mr. Nasheed and even bar him from contesting the next elections after some of them claimed to have found empty liquor bottles in the Presidential House.

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Truth is he was a great leader and always listens to his people. I am not saying i am blind but he has done in these 3 years what others could not even imagine to do here. If you really want to know him come and see and analyze the difference he has made here in the Maldives. All these things are against him today only because he wanted to change the Judicial system. Anyone can sit and talk but when they have to really do the job they hesitate.

from:  Marie
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 11:32 IST

There are allegations and counter-allegations. The allegations of an
Islamic take-over are supported by concrete evidence, viz the multi-
nation conference and Navi Pillay's remark creating anger among the
hardliners. The allegations of corruption are harder to believe. 1.Even the Opposition candidate Gayoom was accused of corruption and nepotism. So why this hurry to depose Nasheed? 2.Nasheed had a long-standing and widely publicized complaint that Gayoom supporters were blocking any business from being conducting in the Parliament. That might be regarded as a classic rearguard campaign of destabilization conducted by Gayoom. 3.It seems incredible that Nasheed, an activist who defeated Gayoom based on promises of transparent and clean governance, should indulge in such massive corruption within 3 years of coming to power. But most worryingly, even if the coup was about corruption, there certainly are very strong Islamic elements in it. Henceforth they will find it easy to seize the reins .

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: Feb 10, 2012 at 05:21 IST

India can do the following three things:
1) Put naval ships in maldivian waters and fly fighter jets over the island nation i.e show military posture and indulge in covert operation
2) Put economic pressure by regulating the trade and traffic
3)Put diplomatic pressure

Wait and watch the situation but intervene only if situation becomes worse and other nations like pakistan, china and western nation fish in the trouble waters.

from:  Sanjay sood
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 21:15 IST

This is an unrest in India's backyard. As a stable democracy, India should atleast send an envoy to facilitate talks. US is sending an envoy this weekend! If India aspires for a role in the regional stability it might be important to atleast provide some guidance or neutral ground for communication between the parties. Siiting on the fence and taking a neutral stand all the time is undermining India's apparent aspirations of increased influence in the region.

Intervention is not the only solution for an internal unrest. At times pure diplomacy works. India needs to be able to work its diplomatic levers in line with its freign policy and grand strategy (if there is any!!)

from:  Digvijay
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 17:39 IST

Indian government did not intervene in this incident due to elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Fear of losing out Muslim votes and fear of Islamist lobby must have prompted "secular" Congress-led UPA to play safe.

from:  Rudolf
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 14:34 IST

The truth is he was a ruthless and impatient leader. He did things without discussing with political allies or his own party leadership and according to some of his own party members 'for the benefit and support of a powerful notorious allies of his'. Maldives elected a coalition government in the last elections, not Nasheed's party. Nasheed has a mere 26% or so in the first round of elections in which he contested without the coalition. The second round saw him through as a president with the support of other parties. After coming to power Nasheed had issues with every other party in their coalition within a year. His cabinet had since been filled by only members of his party. Maldivians protested peacefully several times in the last 3 years, including the recent 21 day protest that was being cracked down under the orders of Mr. Nasheed every day. The Police rebelled Nasheed because they got tired of using tear gas against the public and country wide opinions.

from:  Ahamad Didi
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 13:13 IST

it is Nothing But a Military Coup...Mr Waheed Hassan being former UN Official was one of Player in the Coup...when Indian Army entered Maldives to help Mr. Gayoom to stay in power Not elected by people..why Not now ? India should have intervened in Maldives Military-ly to help democracy survive ...

from:  suresh
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 12:32 IST

The first day of President Mohammed Waheed Hassan's presidency, and
more than 50 people injured by POLICE. Thirty years of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's presidency and thousands of innocent people arrested and tortured in jail by POLICE.Three years of former President Nasheed as president and none injured by POLICE. He was tortured in jail like many others in Maumoon's glory days and after being elected as the president, he researched such incidents and wanted to charge these police's for their cruel tortures.
The first documentary made about these tortures included REAL videos and pictures of innocent people being raped and tortured in jail by POLICE. This documentary was shown in MNBC ONE, on 6th February 2012. He was forced to resign in 7th February by FORCE. Of course the POLICE didn't want anyone to steal their fun, and now its more like a Military Dictatorship in Maldives.
In yesterday's protest, former president was thrown twice by POLICE,
and he was bleeding all over.

from:  Chai Chom
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 12:29 IST

1988 was entirely different. At that time the adversary was a foreign mercenary group. This time however bad it looks and it possibly is, it is a fight between two internal groups. Getting into this situation with your troops would land you in an irretrievable mess. Unfortunately the inevitable will happen. A fundamentalist group with some kind of backing from a delighted Pakistan will emerge on top and will continue until the country Maldives disappears under the warming seas.

from:  Hilary Pais
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 12:04 IST

On the face of it, this isn't 1988, but latest reports are indicating that the "coup" might not have been as glossy as previously reported. Me Nasheed was assaulted mercilessly by the police, as were several of his party leaders. One can only guess what might have happened to party workers. We could have just witnessed the victory of Islamist forces in another country, one uncomfortably close to us. Is that in our best interests?
Even if the protests against Mr Nasheed were due to high prices and similar complaints, one must remember that the flashpoint was the UN's Navi Pillay opining that the country must have a debate about flogging women, and the public display of other countries' flags, which the Islamists immediately sought to portray as an assault on the Islamic hegemony there. The flashpoint was a classic Islamist action, period. They might prevail, going by the interim presidents' actions. Is this in India's interests?

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 09:56 IST

Yes, India made a wise decesion by not interfering. It was a political and not a national crisis. If it was a national crisis, I am sure even our opposition would have supported any involement by our government, they have displayed many a times. We have an ugly bunch of politicians as far as our domestic politics is concerned, but when it comes to serious international decesion making, invariably they act very wise, a thing which we can be proud of our politics and politicians. We are a matured country, not like some other super powers, who try to poke their nose in internal and political issues of other countries.

from:  Jaya Prakash
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 08:34 IST

India has learnt its lessons that putting your finger in the fire will lead to burn, similarly India did not want to repeat the "Operation Cactus" in Maldives as it had leart the lesson in Sri Lanka. It was really wise of India to say that let Maldives tackle its internal issue.

from:  Aiman Reyaz
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 06:44 IST

The demise of Nasheed was due to unfathomable corruption in the government. He awarded $23 million project to his friend and chairperson of MDP Reeko Moosa Manik without public tender. He awarded million$ renewable energy project to his brother Nashid. Embezzling government funds such as through climate change fund for relocating locals to Australia, lead to the Finance Minister and many top officials at the Finance Ministry resigning. His authoritarian rule saw other top government officials from public offices such as Foreign Ministry also resigning from their posts. Nasheed abused laws guaranteeing freedom of speech. Minister Adil threatened to cut signals from private channels and went on to control media through censorship. To cover-up Nasheed’s dictatorship, he plays Maldivians are Islamic extremist’s card which Western governments will buy easily. Reality is that locals are fed up with nepotism, and autocratic rule of Nasheed. But he cannot accept this.

from:  Aishath
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 05:11 IST

President Nasheed was an intelligent person who had plans for his nation as it was threatened by rising sea levels. He was a moderate reformer. He wanted to prevent Pakistani terrorist recruitment in his nation. Intelligent people like him will be missed.

from:  R.R
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 02:31 IST
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