Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed

NEW DELHI: Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed met defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and sought India’s intervention to defuse the crisis in his country in the wake of the government imposing a state of emergency after refusing to implement a supreme court order to free political prisoners.

The meeting took place on Sunday on the sidelines of an event organised by a media organisation in Chennai. The exiled opposition leader also posted a photo of the two on his Twitter handle and said they discussed the ongoing situation in the Maldives. There was no word from the Narendra Modi government on this meeting.

India had earlier put its special forces on standby for any eventuality in Maldives including evacuation of its own citizens if violence breaks out.

Speaking at the conference, Nasheed said although the Maldivian chief justice is being pressured to resign while under police custody, he remains vigilant and therefore President Abdulla Yameen would not call off the state of emergency for the time being. He said if the crisis in the Maldives is not dealt with promptly, it could get too late to reform the country.

The former president said he had called for only the aid of the Indian military and not for the military to come to the Maldives and start a war. Stating that the person sent by India should be able to influence President Yameen to change his actions, Nasheed said India’s help to the Maldives is not about “changing the government” but about ensuring that an independent and just election takes place.

Nasheed had earlier made a public request for India to send a military-backed envoy to solve the political turmoil in the island nation.