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NEW DELHI: Under pressure from Maldives Supreme Court judges and Opposition to act, India on Tuesday said it was disturbed by the declaration of emergency in the country, following the refusal of the Abdulla Yameen government to abide by the by the unanimous court ruling ordering release of political prisoners and also by the suspension of Constitutional rights of the people of Maldives.
“The arrest of the Supreme Court Chief Justice and political figures are also reasons for concern. Government continues to carefully monitor the situation,” said MEA in a statement.
The opposition in Maldives though seemed a disappointed lot on Tuesday. While former president and main opposition party MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed called for a military intervention by India, other opposition leaders said it was unfortunate that India had not even bothered to send a special envoy until now. It also alleged that Yameen might be acting under the influence of China.
“India is seen here as a beacon of hope and democracy. Dialogue could have helped but we are disappointed that India hasn’t sent even a special envoy to deal with the issue,” Abdulla Shahid, former speaker of Maldives Parliament, told TOI.
Shahid said that the joint opposition was in touch with the Indian ambassador, Akhilesh Mishra, over all political developments in the past few days. Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdullah Saeed had been jailed, Shahid said. A source close to Saeed had earlier told TOI that the chief justice had also spoken to Mishra and urged India to act to ensure that the Supreme Court ruling freeing political prisoners was implemented by the Abdulla Yameen government.
There’s strong perception within the joint opposition that Yameen was standing up to international pressure because he believed China, which has not called for Yameen to implement the SC ruling, was on his side. “Nobody should underestimate the influence of China over Yameen. We saw that in the manner in which he recently signed the FTA with China. I think it (support from China) has allowed him to be bold,” said Shahid, who is also the chairman of MDP Foreign Relations Committee.
India, however, is caught in a dilemma even though the situation in Maldives seems to lend itself to coercive action by the government here. Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal warned India must not get into the business of regime change even if it seems to serve its strategic interest.
“Yameen is acting arbitrarily but this is still an internal matter of the Maldives. It is better for India to wait for a while and see if Yameen makes more mistakes or if people of Maldives decide to come out on streets against him,” said Sibal.
Sibal said India was faced with a dilemma also because China was likely to back Yameen up to the hilt. “China will ensure comfort for the Maldives even if western countries decide to impose sanctions because of the stakes that Beijing has developed in that country,” said Sibal.