India can either wait and watch or try to put boots on the ground
GN Bureau | February 7, 2018
India is closely monitoring the situation in Maldives which has been plunged into turmoil since February 1.
So, what happened?
President Abdulla Yameen has declared a state of emergency in Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago which is a big draw for tourists.
Why did he do so?
The apex court of Maldives overturned terrorism convictions against nine leaders opposed to Yameen. The court ordered those in jail to be freed. Yameen defied the ruling and refused to comply with requests from foreign countries.
On Tuesday, in a televised address, the president said he has declared a state of emergency to investigate what he described as a "coup" against him.
Then, what happened?
Former president Mohamed Nasheed, in a tweet on February 5, sought help from India.
What did Nasheed want?
“1. India to send envoy, backed by its military, to release judges & pol. detainees inc. Prez. Gayoom. We request a physical presence. 2. The US to stop all financial transactions of Maldives regime leaders going through US banks.”
What was India’s reaction?
A day after Nasheed’s plea, India said it was “disturbed” by the emergency imposed in Maldives.
A statement issued by the ministry of external affairs said HYPERLINK http://www.mea.gov.in/press-releases.htm?dtl/29415/Situation+in+Maldives: “We are disturbed by the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Maldives following the refusal of the Government to abide by the unanimous ruling of the full bench of the Supreme Court on 1 February, 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.”
What options does New Delhi have?
It can wait and watch or try to put boots on the ground.
Has India intervened in Maldives in the past?
Yes. In 1988 there was an attempt by a group of Maldivians led by Abdullah Luthufi and assisted by armed mercenaries of a Tamil secessionist organisation from Sri Lanka, the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), to overthrow the government in Maldives. The coup failed due to the intervention of the Indian Army, whose military operations efforts were code-named Operation Cactus.
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This piece is based on a previous article by the authors published in Geoforum [Elsevier] in May 2019: available online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0016718519300764?via%3Dihub
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