Published in The Hindu on Feb. 23 ::
Mr. Nasheed was arrested to stand trial for his 2012 order as President to arrest Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
Just days after he appealed to India to intervene in the ongoing crackdown on cases of alleged treason and terrorism by the Maldives government of President Yameen, former President Mohammad Nasheed was arrested in Male.
A PTI report said he was taken into custody on Sunday under anti-terrorism laws for allegedly ordering the arrest of a senior judge in 2012 that triggered violence in the Indian Ocean island nation.
Mr. Nasheed, whose arrest sparked off clashes between members of his opposition party, the MDP, and the police, will be produced in court on Monday to be formally charged.
The arrest and possible turmoil that could follow is being watched closely by the Indian government, given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Male on March 15.
The Ministry of External Affairs is yet to announce the visit.
India unlikely to intervene
The Ministry of External Affairs made no statement on the arrest of Mohammad Nasheed, indicating that India is unlikely to intervene on his behalf. “Mr. Nasheed had publicly requested India to come to our help,” MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told The Hindu. “He had publicly said that he expected his arrest, that the country may go into chaos. He had even asked that in case he was arrested India secure his safety by holding him in Bangalore.”
In response to the appeal, Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon had issued another statement saying that the “[Pres. Yameen] government has no doubt that India will adhere to the principles of Panchsheel and will not intervene in [the] domestic politics of Maldives.”
Mr. Ghafoor, who also has an arrest warrant issued against him, spoke to The Hindu from Colombo, where he was transiting on his return from Delhi. He expressed disappointment that no one in the NDA government agreed to meet the delegation of the MDP.
“Even official meetings we thought may come through were cancelled,” Mr. Ghafoor said. On her visit to Male in November 2014, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had also ignored the Opposition parties, meeting only government officials during her three-nation tour, aimed at strengthening India’s hold as a counter to Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean region.
In the past few weeks, the political situation in the Maldives has been charged by the decision of President Yameen’s coalition partner, the Jumhoory party to quit the government, and announcement of their plans along with Mr. Nasheed’s MDP to call for President Yameen’s resignation with a series of street protests from February 27.
India has intervened in the Maldives in the past, sending envoys to conduct talks with both sides of the bitterly divided Maldivian polity. In 2013, after Mr. Nasheed’s ouster, India had been the first to recognise the new government, an act that Mr. Nasheed had said he felt “let down” by.
Later however, Mr. Nasheed had taken refuge in the Indian embassy for nearly two weeks to evade arrest, before another peace deal was brokered by Indian officials. Most famously in 1988, India had sent military forces to stave off a coup attempt against President Yameen’s brother and predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the island from 1978-2008.