Dramatic pictures of the former Maldives president Mohammad Nasheed being pushed to the ground outside a Male court by police prompted a statement from India, a day after the islands were plunged into a fresh political crisis.
"We are concerned at recent developments in the Maldives, including the arrest and manhandling of former President Nasheed,” said a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs.” The “manhandling” referred to by the MEA occurred when Mr. Nasheed, who was arrested on Sunday on charges of terrorism, was brought to the criminal court in Male.
On his way in Mr. Nasheed was seen stopping to speak to journalists, which the accompanying security forces objected to. When Mr. Nasheed protested he was dragged by the police, and seen falling to the ground.
While India had not reacted to the arrest on Sunday, it is significant that Monday’s statement refers to concern over both the “arrest and manhandling” of the former president.
Last week, the Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon had in a statement said that her government had “no doubt that India will adhere to the principle of Panchsheel and will not intervene in domestic politics of Maldives.”
Prime Minister Modi is expected to visit Male in mid-March and the turmoil in the country would have an impact on his visit.
Speaking to The Hindu the MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said, “We welcome the recognition in India that the situation in the Maldives merits concern. But we hope it will be backed up by action.”
Mr. Ghafoor said the opposition wants India to “send an envoy immediately” to mediate in the current crisis, and also warned that the internal security situation could also have an impact on Indian citizens based in the Maldives.
According to his party MDP officials, their plea for medical assistance for Mr. Nasheed after the incident outside court was denied. Inside court, Mr. Nasheed’s bail application was also rejected, and he will be imprisoned till the end of his trial, where he will have to plead his own case.
“This arrest and detention is completely arbitrary and is clearly and blatantly politically motivated,” claimed Mr. Nasheed’s lawyer Hisaan Hussein, in a statement.
The case against Mr. Nasheed dates back to when he was president in 2011, and he was accused of illegally ordering the detention of a judge. Several other members of his party have been charged as well. In its statement, the MEA said that India “urges all concerned to calm the situation and resolve their differences within the constitutional and legal framework of Maldives.”
Maldives: Coup and after