NEW DELHI: After former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed was dragged and jostled into court by police, India said it was “concerned” at the “arrest and manhandling” of the Indian ocean island nation, which has been again pushed towards political volatility in recent weeks.
A day after being arrested, Nasheed arrived at the criminal court on Monday afternoon. He tried to speak to the awaiting media, when he was pushed towards the court building by special police officers. As he protested their manhandling, Nasheed fell to the ground and was dragged inside the court premises.
According to local media reports, Nasheed limped into the court, using his tie as a makeshift sling for his injured arm. His shirt was torn and glasses were missing.
A few hours later, the ministry of external affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin gave India’s first response. “We are concerned at recent developments in the Maldives, including the arrest and manhandling of former President Nasheed,” he said.
He said that India urged “all concerned to calm the situation and resolve their differences within the constitutional and legal framework of Maldives.”
“The Government of India reiterates its commitment to supporting the people and the Government of Maldives in their quest for peace, development, prosperity and democracy,” added Akbaruddin.
Meanwhile, Nasheed did not have any legal representation at the criminal court, as new guidelines say that his lawyers require two days to be registered. Further, his appeal to the higher court was not submitted, as new rules say that it has go through the criminal court.
The former president was arrested on Sunday afternoon on terrorism charges related to the detention of criminal court chief judge in January 2012.
Responding to MEA’s statement, Maldivian Democratic Party’s international 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.”
There is an expectation from within MDP that India will send a special envoy to Maldives. However, sources here said that there were no proposal to send any official to the island nation, stating that the solution had to be found from with Maldivian polity.
While the opposition had been asking for India to intervene, the government had made it clear that it would not broach any such role for India. The Maldives foreign minister Dunya Maumoon had said earlier the Male’ believed that India will adhere to “panchsheel” principle of non-interference in internal affairs of another country.
At the same time, Maldives also unilaterally officially announced that there was a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March.
With the criminal court ordering Nasheed to be imprisoned till end of his trial, the optics would certainly look a little askew if Modi travelled to Maldives when its principal opposition leader was behind bars.
There was not all hunky-dory within the ruling party, as evident by former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom having to issue a statement that there was no rift as rumoured between him and his half-brother, President Abdulla Yameen.
The statement came after a ruling party member of parliament, who was thought to have been close to Gayoom, had publicly criticised the government on Sunday night over the arrest of former defence minister Mohamed Nazim and dismissal of judges.