New Delhi, October 4
The Maldives government has charged 38 people on various grounds, including terrorism, for storming and disrupting the international Yoga Day celebration organised by the Indian Cultural Centre in Male in June.
A mob had stormed the national stadium in Male on June 21, scuffled with participants and vandalised property before they were dispersed. Co-sponsored by the Indian Cultural Centre, the Yoga Day event was being attended by then Indian envoy, Munu Mahawar, other envoys and prominent citizens of Maldives.
The official statement came after Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra had visited Maldives on a three-day visit and met Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Didi to discuss more bilateral defence cooperation. Besides catering to Maldives’ defence and security requirements, India is also heavily bankrolling developmental projects in the island nation.
Maldives President Ibu Solih had immediately condemned the disruption and had assured that those responsible would be “swiftly brought before the law”. However, it was over three months after the incident and in the wake of the Foreign Secretary’s three-day official visit to the Maldives that the charges were filed.
The Maldives government statement said charges were filed against the 38 people for committing “acts of terrorism against the participants of the event and obstructing law enforcement officers”. Eight people were charged under the anti-terrorism law for committing “an act of terrorism”, which 20 to 25 years in prison upon conviction. The Prosecutor General had submitted the charges to the criminal court on October 2.
Soon after the incident, the Maldives ruling party had alleged that former president Abdulla Yameen were behind the incident. Yamenn’s coalition partners had also condemned the attack and had backed the growing defence ties with India.
It is not known how many of the 38 people charged for various offences belonged to Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives which has been fuelling a long-running “India Out” campaign.
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