The locals of Maamigili in Alif Dhaalu atoll on Saturday protested against the recent raids on the resorts operated by opposition Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim’s Villa Company.
Maldives Police Service and Maldives Customs Services on Wednesday and Thursday nights raided Paradise Island Resort, Fun Island, Sun Island and Holiday Island under a warrant to gather evidence for a claim that alleges that the alcoholic beverages, which were released by a customs’ bonded warehouse under the name of Royal Island’s management, had been illegally taken to other resorts. Officials from the tax regulatory body Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) were also at the scene.
Speaking to Mihaaru, Maamigili Council’s president Abdullah Mufeedh said that some 300 locals of the island rallied against the “governments’ bid to bring down Qasim’s businesses” and that they were “deeply angered” by the state’s actions.
The protestors had called to stop the “government-initiated raids” on Qasim’s resorts, and also called for the immediate release of the opposition leader, who is currently in Germany after the state declared him a fugitive.
The protestors also urged the government to stop cease all activity that could harm Maldives’ tourism industry, as it would affect the livelihoods of many citizens who are employed in this sector.
“The government’s actions are unwarranted and unfair to the citizens. We’re continually urging the government to stop these cruel acts,” one of the protestors said.
Many of the protestors had also alleged that the recent raids on Qasim’s resort were politically motivated in an attempt to make him “completely powerless”, and called for the immediate resignation of President Abdulla Yameen.
The hundreds of demonstrators in Maamigili held “Free Qasim” placards and messages for their former MP, who had been their representative until late last year when he was unseated from the parliament after he was convicted of bribery. Many locals from the atoll are employed at his resorts, and the exiled leader is a popular figure in the region.
While the Villa Company maintains that it has not done anything illegal and that they have fully complied with the investigation thus far, the customs revealed that it had revoked the liquor license for all resorts operated under the Villa Company on March 22, 2017, after MIRA reported discrepancies taxes paid by the company.
The warrant that backed the raids had authorised the customs to inspect the resorts’ documents pertaining to the case as well as the physical stock of alcohol and pork products, computerized systems that monitor the stocks, as well as storage devices and other related equipment.
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Source URL: Mihaaru-News