The police have arrested a 22 year-old suspect in connection with the vandalism of the Indian High Commissioner’s Car on Monday (October 28).
The police obtained a warrant from the Criminal Court to arrest the man, but have not provided any further details on the case. The case is being investigated by the Serious and Organised Crime Department.
The rear window of High Commissioner Rajeeve Shahare’s car was smashed on Monday evening whilst parked outside of the High Commission in Male’.
A statement released by the Indian High Commission described the attack, 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.
“It is evident that there was malicious intention to cause damage to the property and perhaps to the occupant of the car. Importantly, the High Commissioner was in the car just a few minutes before the attack,” it continued.
The President’s Office on October 29 assured that such “cowardly” 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 said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also expressed concern over the attack on the diplomatic vehicle.
“The Ministry wishes to call on all members of the public to refrain from activities that might undermine the close friendly relations that exist between Maldives and its close and friendly neighbours,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday (October 29).
The Maldives’ traditionally close ties with India have come under increasing strain under the current government, with the cancellation of a 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.
Following Monday’s attack, the Maldivian Democratic Party described the rhetoric of the past few months as “hate mongering targeting Indian officials.”