Kerala minister to look into Indian teacher’s incarceration in Maldives

Chief Minister of Kerala state Oommen Chandy has pledged to provide all assistance necessary to secure the release of K.K. Jayachandran – an Indian teacher jailed in the Maldives.

Chandy gave the assurances to the Jayachandran’s family following the teacher’s wife’s petition to Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, reported the Hindu.

Jyothi Jayachandran sad that her husband had been falsely accused of abusing a student at his school on Feali Island, in Faafu Atoll, in April of this year.

“Subsequently, the complaint was withdrawn by the victim and his parents, but the police pursued the case by extending his custody, ” Jyothi was quoted as telling the Hindu last week.

“I have approached the Indian High Commission and Embassy office at the Maldives. So far, I have got no positive response from them,” she said.

Chandy subsequently said he would summon the consul attached to the Maldivian Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday as well as contacting the Indian High Commission in Malé.

Source: The Hindu

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UN Maldives commends government’s response in water crisis, opposition condemns

The United Nations in the Maldives has commended relief efforts during the Malé water crisis, though the opposition has attacked the governments preparedness and subsequent handling of events.

In a press release today, the UN in Maldives commended the “outstanding response” of the government, noting that measures were also being taken to address the needs of vulnerable and special needs population.

“The situation does not warrant any humanitarian assistance at the moment. UN is working with the Government to monitor closely that there will be no deterioration of the situation,” the statement continued.

The President’s Office announced today that the closure of government offices would continue for the rest of the week, while offers of foreign assistance have continued to pour in.

Meanwhile, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) condemned government efforts – in particular the decision to continue billing residents for water usage.

“Water should be provided free of charge until the water crisis is resolved,” said Rozaina while speaking at an MDP press conference.

Minister of Defense Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim said this morning that the Malé Water and Sewerage Company’s (MWSC) board of governors have decided to implement a 30 percent discount on water transactions for the month of December.

Addressing the public for the first time during the crisis yesterday, President Abdulla Yameen noted that getting water supplies to the upper floors of buildings had been problematic.

MWSC’s decision contradicts a company statement released two days ago (December 6) saying customers would not be charged until the current crisis is over in order to provide relief for the ground floor level residents who have been donating water.

MWSC charges a progressive rate on the water usage, which rises as the usage increases over a MVR30 fixed monthly charge. The rate can go as high as MVR95 per cubic meter when usage increases over 500 liters.

Relief

Nazim also revealed governments plans to set up a ‘Malé water crisis management fund’ to collect donations in order to recover the MVR300 million (US$20 million) spent on the management of the crisis.

Rozaina criticised the estimated figure of US$20 million by saying that the MDP demanded a technical viewpoint on the damages and an explanation of why US$20 million is required for the repairs. The party has asked whether MWSC’s facilities were insured.

An unnamed Saudi Arabian has already donated US$ 1 million to the fund while local business group Champa Brothers pledged to provide US$100,000.

The MDP has also slammed the government’s failure to give a set date for the resumption of normal services, with members of the president’s task force telling local media yesterday that the issue could not be solved within a “politically desirable” timeframe.

Continuing its extensive relief efforts, Indian navy fleet tanker INS Deepak arrived yesterday bringing with it 1,250 tons of water. The water was then pumped to tanks in Malé through 400 meters of pipe.

The ship – which also has RO capabilities – is now at anchorage near Malé where it be producing 100 tons of water per day which will then be transported to the capital via barges.

Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, MR Rajeev Shahare – speaking aboard INS Deepak yesterday – said that the Indian government had offered technical assistance with the repairs which was refused by the government saying that they are consulting a Japanese firm.

So far, 10 Indian military airplanes have landed at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) bringing with them more than 200 tons of water.

State Bank of India (SBI) also joined relief efforts today, distributing 7.5 tons of water.

A Chinese vessel which arrived last night capable of producing 90 tons of water per day delivered 600 tons of water today to the capital. Two Chinese military flights landed last night with 40 tons of water in between them.

A Bangladeshi military vessel with 5 desalination plants and one hundred tonnes of water is also due to arrive on Thursday (December 11).

Meanwhile, President’s Office Spokesperson Ahmed Muaz announced today hat the government has decided to close all its offices in Malé for the rest of the week after considering the difficulties people could face as a result of the current water problems in Malé.

Muaz noted said that the President’s Office will be open from 10 am to 1pm,while the Maldives Monetary Authority has also announced that it and other banks will be between 11am to 2pm to provide banking services for the public.



Related to this story

No fall back for disaster of this magnitude: President Yameen

Government seeks US$20 million in donations to repair Malé’s desalination plant

President Yameen to return to Maldives as water crisis enters third day

Nasheed calls for inquiry into MWSC fire

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Construction worker dies in fall from 10-storey building

An Indian construction worker died last night in a fall from the 10th floor of a building under construction in Malé.

Police said the incident was reported around 7:14pm and the man was pronounced dead on arrival at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

The Indian worker fell on the roof of the next door residence, police said.

Police urged construction companies to take precautionary measures on sites to ensure safety of workers.

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President releases four Indian prisoners

President Abdulla Yameen has used executive powers to release four Indian prisoners serving sentences in the Maldives.

President’s Office Spokesman Ibrahim Muaz Ali told local media that the three men and one woman currently detained would be deported upon release. The nature of their offences was not revealed.

“We have an agreement for exchange of prisoners between our two countries. The laws needed to enforce this agreement haven’t yet been completed. Therefore, this decision was taken with the power bestowed upon the president through Article 115 of the Constitution,” Muaz told Haveeru.

He said that the move was intended to strengthen bilateral ties as well as celebrating the recent election of Narendra Modi. The close ties between the two countries will be marked with a 2km friendship walk, starting from the artificial beach at 4pm tomorrow (August 8).

President Yameen also used his presidential prerogative to grant clemency to 169 Maldivian convicts in April.

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Presidents use Victory Day to warn against modern-day traitors

Presidents past and present have extended greetings to the people of the Maldives in celebration of Victory Day – the occasion commemorating the failed 1988 coup.

The attempt to overthrow the government of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom by Maldivian dissidents and Tamil mercenaries was repelled by a combination of the Maldives National Defense Force and Indian troops.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed paid tribute to the those who fought to defend the nation on that day, taking advantage of the occasion to stress the importance of national unity and the danger of foreign interference.

“Similarly, this is the time for us to find solutions to issues faced by us. We must resolve our issues ourselves. We must not let any foreign party to interfere and have their say in our affairs.”

“We must always remember that giving that opportunity to foreigners could negatively affect our independence and sovereignty, and we may have to face further harms,” said a President’s Office statement.

Meanwhile, local media quoted former President Gayoom as using the occasion to warn against the danger of traitors still present within the country, calling on Maldivians to be be wary of similar schemes threatening the nation today.

Police Commisioner Abdulla Riyaz yesterday revealed that documents concerning the coup could be declassified from today – 25 years after the incident – though he said a  decision was yet to be made on the way in which they would be made public.

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Indian naval ships to arrive in Male for training

Indian Naval Ship, INS Sharda and Coast Guard Ship, ICGS Varuna, will arrive in Male’ harbour tomorrow for training purposes, according to a statement from the Indian High Commission in Male’.

“INS Sharda is the sixth of the Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) acquired by the Indian Navy and the third to be indigenously built. INS Sharda is a versatile platform capable of undertaking a wide variety of missions such as coastal and offshore patrolling, protection of off shore installation/ EEZ, Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) Monitoring and providing Logistics Support to the littoral territories of India in the Arabian Sea,” read a statement from the High Commission.

“ICGS Varuna is a multi-role vessel capable of operating under all weather conditions. Equipped with state of the art Navigation and Communication aids, armed with 2A42 30mm Medak Gun and empowered by an integral flight of Chetak helicopter, she is capable of meeting all the challenges while enforcing maritime regulations in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” the statement continued.

During the visit, the ships will also be carrying spares and equipment for the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF)’s Advanced Light Helicopter, Dhruv’, renamed “Kurangi”, which is stationed in Addu.

“The helicopter was gifted by the Indian Government to the MNDF in 2010 and is operated by an Indian Coast Guard contingent, denotes the robust military cooperation between the two nations,” the statement concluded.

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Indian coastguard rescues crew of Maldivian cargo vessel

The Maldivian cargo ship MV Asian Express sank on Wednesday evening 300 kilometres west of Kochi, after its hull reportedly cracked below the waterline.

The ship, which was travelling to the Maldives from Pakistan carrying a cargo of sand and cement, suffered an engine failure on Tuesday evening and began drifting, reported IBN Live.

According to marine tracking reports, the Indian Coast Guard ship Varuna arrived to assist but was forced to abandon attempts to fix the engines because of rapidly deteriorating weather conditions.

The Indian coast guard subsequently evacuated all 22 crew members, including 18 Maldivians and four Indian nationals.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) confirmed it had received the first distress reports, and said the Maldivian crew were being transferred to Kochi following total loss of the vessel.

The MV Asian Express was carrying aggregate imported from Pakistan, after a shortage began impacting the Maldives’ construction industry.

Aggregate was previously imported to the Maldives from India under a special quota, however this was temporarily revoked on February 15 amid a breakdown in the country’s relationship over the government’s eviction of Indian infrastructure giant GMR and ongoing mistreatment of Indian nationals working in the country.

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Indian teachers request transfer, quit posts after Kumundhoo school attack

Almost a dozen Indian teachers on Kumundhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll have either resigned from their posts or requested transfers to another island following the assault of a colleague on school premises last week, diplomatic officials have confirmed.

Diplomatic sources said Indian High Commissioner Rajeev Shahare was meanwhile in the process of arranging talks with Maldivian education authorities to discuss the issue of teacher safety.

The Indian High Commission in the Maldives told Minivan News it received requests from eight Indian nationals currently working as teachers on Kumundhoo to be transferred to another island over concerns about their safety.

According to the commission, two other expatriate teachers on the island have also handed in their resignation after physics teacher Neelakantan Pappukutty Subash Kumar was assaulted in the school on May 14 by an angry mob accusing him of hitting a student in the chest.

One expatriate teacher on the island, who has since handed in their resignation, was also claimed to have received minor injuries trying to prevent the assault, an Indian diplomatic official told Minivan News this week.

Despite the concerns about teacher safety, the high commission said yesterday (May 19) that the response of the education ministry had so far been “positive” in terms of their handling of the attack on the Indian national.

Kumundhoo Island Councilor Ali Anwar claimed on May 15 that islanders had destroyed a a power distribution unit outside the school to cut off its electricity, before then entering and attacking the teacher, despite efforts by staff to try and prevent the assault.

So far eight suspects are being held in police custody over the attack, police confirmed today.

After being initially hospitalised after the assault, Kumar’s condition is not thought to be critical.  The high commission has claimed the teacher was now waiting for the Education Ministry to renew his work visa that expired last month, so that he can be returned to India for treatment.

A “mutual time” was also being sought for High Commissioner Shahare to meet with the country’s education officials to discuss the issue of “better security” for expatriate teachers.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from the Ministry of Education at time of press.

Ongoing concerns

Despite the high commission’s praise for the education ministry this week, one Indian diplomatic source said following the attack that the injured teacher’s treatment continued to highlight ongoing concerns over the Maldives’ treatment of foreign workers.

These concerns were said to be based around issues such as the retention of passports and travel documents by private and state employers.

“The fact remains that [Kumar’s] work permit has not been renewed. He was a government employee –  they should have renewed his documents before they expired, not afterwards,” the diplomatic source said last week.  ”This [issue] has been going on for over one and a half years now.”

A senior Indian doctor in the Maldives has also previously alleged that expatriate professionals regullarly  face intimidation and fraud in the country from employers and the public.

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Kumundhoo islanders bash Indian teacher after accusing him of hitting student

An Indian physics teacher has been hospitalised after a group of angry islanders confronted him on the island of Kumundhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, and beat him up after accusing him of hitting a student in the chest.

Police Media Official Ismail Ali confirmed the incident occurred and had been reported to police.

“At the time I don’t have details of the case. Police are still on the island since last night,” he said.

Speaking to Minivan News, Island Councilor Ali Anwar said he heard of the incident yesterday at 5:30pm.

“Yesterday afternoon the expat teacher hit a 13 year-old student in the chest and the child fell and couldn’t breathe and was taken to the health centre,” Anwar said. “The islanders became angry at the teacher and gathered outside the school. The security guard and school staff were unable to control them.”

He said the islanders destroyed a power distribution unit outside the school cutting off its electricity, and then attacked the expat teacher.

Anwar said the police were called immediately when the islanders gathered in front of the school, but arrived at 8:00pm that night after everything had ended.

“I understand that the Indian teacher has been admitted to Kulhudhuffushi Hospital and the injuries he received are not clear,” he said.

“No one on this island wishes to have him back so we don’t think he will return,” he added.

Police are still active on the island investigating the case, however no one has been arrested, according to Anwar.

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