The ministry of education locked up the Mandhu College in Malé last night after a 24-hour eviction notice expired yesterday, sparking an outcry on social media outcry.
Education ministry officials entered the building around 1:00am with police officers, padlocked the gate, and put up a notice that read, “these premises are now under the ministry of education.”
The notice stated that entering the grounds without a special permit from the ministry is illegal, and advised contacting the ministry to make arrangements for removing private property.
“Nobody and nothing is safe,” Mandhu College chairman Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail tweeted last night.
Tonight, Maldivians will hv seen that this govt will stop at nothing in their barbarism. Nobody and nothing is safe.
— Ibra (@ibramandhu) June 2, 2015
The civil court reportedly granted a stay order halting the eviction, before holding a separate hearing to annul the stay order.
“Going into court in 15 mins to try and save 1500 students’ future. Many of them too poor to come to Male’ to study. Pray for them,” Ibra tweeted yesterday after the education ministry gave a notice to to clear the premises by 3:00pm.
Mandhu college launched a virtual campus in August last year and offers online courses to students residing in islands across the country.
The education ministry said in a statement on Monday that the old Malé English School building was leased in December 2008 for development of an international school
The owner of the international school transferred the agreement to Malé High Pvt Ltd, which operates Mandhu College, and registered the international school under the company.
Operating a college in the premises was contrary to the purpose of the agreement, the ministry said, noting that public schools in the capital faced problems due to lack of capacity.
The education ministry previously ordered Mandhu to vacate the premises in January, but extended the deadline to May 30. The first semester at the college ended last week.
The ministry said the college had not responded to requests for discussions to formulate a timeline for vacating the building,
In a Facebook post today, Mandhu College urged students to remain calm and patient while the college sets up “alternative facilities for next semester.”
“It is with deep sadness that the college has to inform its students that the police have forcibly and unlawfully entered the college premises at around midnight tonight and evicted all staff and taken over all property of the college,” the college said.
One student expressed support for the college in a comment: “Our loyalty cannot be shaken by any such intimidation. We are with you Mr. Ibrahim Ismail and team.”
The forcible eviction has sparked outrage on social media, with one opposition MP suggesting that shutting down higher education institutions was a higher priority for police than investigating murders and other serious crimes.
Police priorities: Shutting down schools ✔️ Beating peaceful protestors✔️ Finding abducted journalists✖️ Investigating murders, terrorism✖️
— Eva Abdulla (@evattey) June 3, 2015
Police comes to shut down a higher education institution in the middle of a rainy night. Thank you Asth Shiham. pic.twitter.com/WMk6hgzspz
— Shauna Aminath (@anuahsa) June 2, 2015