A file photo of Foreign Minister & Special Envoy of President of Maldives, Dr Mohamed Asim with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on Thursday

India mulls intervention as Maldives crisis deepens

by Nayanima Basu

India has rejected a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Maldives Mohamed Asim, who is also the designated Special Envoy of the Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, a day after their Supreme Court reversed its decision to release all political prisoners.

As the crisis there reached its peak, the Maldivian government under President Yameen has taken a stance to send emissaries to “friendly nation” in order to provide update on the current situation there.

Apart from Asim who was asked to visit India and Pakistan, the other two envoys are Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed who was sent to China and Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Mohamed Shainee who was asked to visit Saudi Arabia.

However, as tensions continued to simmer, several reports emerged that Maldives have bypassed India. Refuting these claims, the Embassy of Maldives issued a statement here on Wednesday stating that it was India that rejected meeting the Special Envoy as both Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was travelling.

“The first stop of special envoy of the President was India. But the visit was cancelled on the request of the Government of India. The Government of the Maldives was informed that the said dates were not suitable for India’s leadership. It is therefore grossly misleading to say that The Government of the Maldives was bypassing India,” said a statement issued by Shazra Abdul Sattar, Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister at the Maldives Embassy here.

However, according to sources, apparently India rejected the meeting with Special Envoy because it wants the government to lift the emergency there and return to normalcy.

“Firstly, there is a set protocol to send an envoy. We have not been informed of the purpose of sending the envoy. Also we have not seen any real action on the concerns stated by the international community and India. Democratic institutions and the Judiciary continue to be undermined and concerns ignored, these issues need to be properly addressed,” a top official told BusinessLine requesting anonymity.

Apart from India, America and the European Union have all expressed serious concern over the present situation in Maldives.

“France is concerned by the suspension of public freedoms and by the arrests that took place following the declaration of the state of emergency in the Maldives. We call for a swift return to the normal functioning of the institutions and for respect for the rule of law. France reaffirms its attachment to respect for fundamental freedoms, the freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the rights of the opposition,” stated France on Thursday.

The EU has said that it expects the state of emergency to be lifted without delay.

After giving the verdict that all political prisoners be released, including former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, the Supreme Court of Maldives reversed its decision on Tuesday spelling victory for President Yameen who declared emergency in the Indian Ocean nation on February 5.

Nasheed, who is presently under self-exile in London, has urged India to do military intervene into the crisis as it did during ‘Operation Cactus’ in 1988.

“Maldivians see India’s role positively. In ‘88 they came, resolved the crisis, and left. They were not occupiers but liberators. This is why Maldivians look to India now,” Nasheed said in a tweet.