The Maldives is going through a state of emergency. The emergency was declared by the President Abdulla Yameen after the Supreme Court of Maldives ordered annulment of conviction of nine political leaders hitherto charged with terrorism and reinstatement of 12 opposition leaders in the Parliament. A rattled Yameen declared the emergency that gave him sweeping powers over the Constitution.
The Chief Justice and one more judge, who were the part of the chair that decreed the judgment were arrested, and the government bluntly refused to acknowledge the order of Supreme Court.
After the emergency declaration, there have been calls from different quarters, including the former president of Maldives Mohammad Nasheed, who is currently in exile, for Indian intervention in the Maldives.
While India did intervene in the Maldives in 1988 to thwart a coup attempt and was successful, but the repetition of the plan seems unlikely.
India has intervened in other’s affairs, be it during the 1971 war when it went on to help the Bangalis win freedom from the ruthless generals of Pakistan or in the 1980s when Rajiv Gandhi sent troops to Srilanka to combat the LTTE or in 1988 under Operation Cactus in the Maldives. But, the situation and timing are pretty much different this time.
The Maldives has a democratically elected representative, even though he is running the government in a quintessential autocratic way, the point is that he enjoys the mandate of the people according to the electoral prospectus. So, running down the government could tantamount to what the USA did in Syria.
Syria and Maldives also represent one more common feature, that is, while Syria became the breeding-ground for ISIS terrorists during the civil-war, Maldives also accounts for a high number of terrorist per-capita that are recruited in ISIS. So, god forbid, if any such imitation of Syrian tactic happen in the Maldives, given that ISIS has been waning from their strongholds, it could be detrimental for India given the strategic importance of the country.
The terrorists could use the excuse of “intervention by a predominantly Hindu state” to buttress their grotesque and sinister motives. It may also help the rabble-rouser, Mr Abdulla Yameen to drum up support on jingoist and hyper-nationalist rhetoric. There’s also a significant Chinese presence in the Maldives that has grown over the years, and any unintended havoc on the Chinese nationals could intensify the animosity between Indo-China, that is already going through a bitter phase.
The Maldives depend a lot on tourism for its domestic economy. What India can eventually do is that it shall try to ally with the West to put sanction on the Maldives that would hurt it’s tourism sector unless it abides by the international norms and rules. Hard-diplomatic manoeuvres along with a prepared military strength should be contemplated to take any measured response as and when the time arises. Economic sanctions, apart from yielding results from the government itself, could also implore the citizens of Maldives to exhort their President to abide and listen to us.