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‘Disturbed’ by Maldives crisis, India weighs options as ex prez Nasheed seeks help

New Delhi said it is monitoring the situation in the Maldives where President Abdulla Yameen declared an emergency on Monday.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2018 22:15 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Maldives,Indian Ocean,MEA
In this Feb.4, 2018 photo, Maldivian opposition supporters shout slogans during a protest as they the urge the government to obey a Supreme Court order to release and retry political prisoners, including an ex-president in Male, Maldives. (AP)

India said on Tuesday said it is “disturbed” by the declaration of emergency in Maldives amid the face-off between the government and the Supreme Court even as it looks at contingency measures with a range of options to deal with the evolving situation in the island nation.

President Abdulla Yameen‘s regime has also suspended the constitutional rights of people .

“We are disturbed by the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Maldives following the refusal of the Government to abide by the unanimous ruling of the full bench of the Supreme Court on 1 February, and also by the suspension of Constitutional rights of the people of Maldives,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

The statement said “the arrest of the Supreme Court Chief Justice and political figures are also reasons for concern.”

“Government continues to carefully monitor the situation”, the statement said.

With the Indian Ocean archipelago got further mired in the political crisis, former President Mohammed Nasheed now in exile in Sri Lanka, sought military intervention from India to release the judges and political detainees. He also sounded the United States for imposing financial sanctions on the leaders of the ruling dispensation.

“We would like the Indian government to send an envoy, backed by its military, to free the judges and the political detainees, including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, from their detention and to bring them to their homes. We are asking for a physical presence,” Nasheed tweeted.

When asked about whether India is considering Nasheed’s request, an official said, “All I can say is that the government continues to monitor the situation.”

Officials said the government is in discussion with other countries who are ‘concerned about the situation’ and the interest of its citizens living in the island nation is at the top of New Delhi’s mind.

“We have been keeping an eye on the developments in Maldives and we are looking at the contingency measures to deal with the situation as we have a sizeable number of our citizens living in that country,” said an official.

There are 22,000 Indian nationals working in the country.

“We issued a travel advisory warning our nationals against the non-essential travel and we are evaluating the developments including the security situation,” said the official.

Chief Justice of Maldives Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after President Yameen declared a state of emergency on Monday. Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has allied himself with the Opposition, was also detained at his home.

President Yameen has accused judges of plotting to overthrow him and said the emergency is to investigate this plot.

Since President Yameen took power in 2013, his government has faced allegations about trampling the freedom of speech, the detention of political opponents and the independence of the judiciary. But President’s office said the imposition of state emergency for 15 days from Monday was in the “interest of public safety.”

“The President has been compelled to declare a state of emergency due to the risk currently posed to national security,” the statement from the President’s office had said. For India the stability in Maldives is an imperative for securing the key shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean.

India, the United States and UK have been urging President Yameen to honour the rule of law and free the detainees.

First Published: Feb 06, 2018 22:13 IST