An attack on the official vehicle of the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives has been described as “cowardly” by the President’s Office.
The rear window of High Commissioner Rajeeve Shahare’s car was smashed yesterday evening whilst parked outside of the High Commission in Male’.
A statement released by the Indian High Commission describes the attack, whilst noting that a police officer was observed by High Commission security staff as witnessing the attack but failing to react.
“The Indian High Commission security guards observed on the close circuit TV that the culprit purposefully approached the Indian flag car, pelted two metallic objects at the car one of which smashed the rear windshield, and ran away thereafter,” said the statement.
The attacked was reported to police at around 6:45pm yesterday.
The President’s Office today assured that such attacks against foreign diplomatic personnel and property would not be tolerated.
“The close and friendly relation that exists between the Maldives and India is based on mutual respect, understanding and reinforced by a shared vision of a better future for our people,” it continued.
“The government and the people of the Maldives deeply appreciate the immense contributions made by India towards the development of Maldives and consider India our closest ally. The Maldives’ government is confident that the close relations that exist between our two countries will continue to strengthen.”
The incident had also received widespread condemnation from both sides of the political divide in the Maldives, with both former Presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed taking to social media.
I strongly condemn the attack on Indian High Commissioner’s car in Male this evening. The culprits must be caught n brought to justice. -M
— Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) October 28, 2013
Condemn vandalism of Indian High Commissioner’s car this evening and call on the Government to launch an investigation immediately. — Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) October 28, 2013
Police have called for public assistance in tracking down the perpetrators.
“Any person who steps forward to provide any information will be given all due protection to ensure their safety,” read a police statement.
The Maldives’ traditionally close ties with India have come under increasing strain under the current government, with the cancellation of the deal to develop Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in December 2012 the most contentious issue.
The 25 year, US$500million, lease signed with Indian infrastructure company GMR was terminated after a long and at times xenophobic campaign from government aligned parties.
The campaign sparked a diplomatic row after President’s Office spokesman Abbas Adil Riza accused Indian High Commissioner D.M. Mulay of being a “traitor and enemy of the Maldives and the Maldivian people”.
The President’s Office quickly distanced itself from these remarks. Both men have since left their posts.
GMR is currently seeking US$1.4billion in compensation in a Singaporean court of arbitration – a figure greater than the Maldives’ annual state budget.
On February 15 this year, the Indian government revoked a special quota afforded to the Maldives for the import of aggregate and river sand, resulting in a weakening of the construction sector in 2013.
The Indian High Commission itself became the scene of political drama as former President Nasheed temporarily sought refuge inside the diplomatic mission after police attempted to arrest him to ensure his appearance in court.