Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who normally would know about troop movements, deployment and at the tactical level perhaps even ambushes laid by security forces, was “ambushed” by none other than the former President of Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, on the sidelines of a seminar organised by
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who normally would know about troop movements, deployment and at the tactical level perhaps even ambushes laid by security forces, was “ambushed” by none other than the former President of Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, on the sidelines of a seminar organised by a well-known media house in Bengaluru.
On February 18, the former President who now lives in exile in Colombo, Sri Lanka, tweeted a picture of two meeting and said “Pleasure to meet and brief Indian Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman on the situation in the Maldives.”
Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) February 18, 2018
Top Ministry of Defence sources in New Delhi, however, told India Today that the purported meeting referred to by the former Maldivian President was an “unscheduled, chance meeting in Bengaluru at the sidelines of a function organised by a well-known Chennai-headquartered media house. Further, there was no discussion on the situation in the Maldives.”
“After addressing the seminar Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the editors, senior members of the media house were having a cup of tea in an adjoining room when President Nasheed, also an invitee, approached the minister. Only courtesies were exchanged after which the minister left for the airport to return to New Delhi. Defence Minister Sitharaman did not discuss the situation in the Maldives with former Maldivian leader,” a defence ministry source who didn’t want to be named told India Today. “Social media post by the former Maldivian President is uncalled for,” the source said.
India Today’s efforts to reach President Nasheed for his comments failed to evoke any response.
On February 5, 2018, the current President of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom Yameen declared a 15-day emergency after the country’s Supreme Court quashed terrorism charges against nine leading opposition figures, including Nasheed. Soon, Maldivian security forces swept across Male detaining two Supreme Court judges.
Former Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed has publicly asked India to intervene militarily. Earlier, in 1988, India had sent its troops when the elected government of Maldives was overthrown in a coup. This time, New Delhi, however, has maintained a stoic silence. New Delhi has conveyed to the Maldives that it wants democracy restored and the emergency lifted.
“India doesn’t want to seen to interfering in favour of one and against another in the Maldives and importantly Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman didn’t have any brief to hold talks with Nasheed,” sources added.
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