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Maldives turmoil worries India
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

Delhi disappoints Nasheed

Male: Maldives’ ousted President Mohammed Nasheed on Saturday said he was disappointed with India over its response to the political turmoil in his country. India has failed to properly understand the ground situation in his country, he said.

US envoy in Male

US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake arrived in Male and met leaders here in a bid to defuse the political crisis. Blake met Nasheed and gathered information about recent political developments in the country. The top US official also had a meeting with 59-year-old Hassan, who was Nasheed's deputy just four days ago. — PTI

New Delhi, February 11
With the situation in the Maldives showing no signs of improvement, India is worried that prolonged political instability in the Indian Ocean archipelago could lead to radicalisation of the Maldivian society.

“There have already been attempts in recent months by extremist elements to get into the Maldives…we are worried and continue to closely monitor the situation,” sources said today.

M Ganpathi, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Ministry, who had been deputed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit the Maldives, has already held discussions with different leaders in Male. He is expected to brief the PM on his talks soon.

Meanwhile, former dictator MA Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for nearly three decades, is expected to return to Male tomorrow. Ousted President Mohammed Nasheed has already stated that what has happened in his country should be traced to Gayoom’s network.

The developments in the Maldives come close on the heels of an attempted coup in Bangladesh, another close neighbour of India, reflecting the growing presence of Islamic fundamentalism in the region.

Nasheed had gone on record in recent months saying ‘hundreds of Maldivians’ had been recruited by the Taliban and were fighting Pakistan.

Historically, religion has been an important part of the daily lives of the Maldivians but the Islam followed there was never rigid or puritanical. Traditionally, women did not veil their faces or cover their heads and men did not grow beard. Interaction between men and women was allowed and arranged marriages, practiced in most Islamic societies, was never the norm in the tiny island nation.

For quite some time, however, things had been changing in the Maldives. The number of burqa-clad women and men with beards had been increasing steadily. Religious conservatives had been becoming increasingly assertive.

The sources noted that tension had been increasing in the Maldives ever since the SAARC summit was held there in November last year.

Given his uneasy relationship with the judiciary and the police, Nasheed wanted to place his own people in vital organs of the state. Nasheed, elected in 2008 in the country's first democratic presidential elections, faced a hostile Opposition in Parliament, an uncooperative judiciary, and growing discontent regarding the role of Islamic values in the Muslim majority country.





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