Maldivian man alleges beating in Indian prison after attempting to export peacock feathers

A Maldivian man arrested in Trivandrum, India for attempting to take a bag of peacock feathers back to Maldives has alleged he was beaten in prison, local media reported.

Ahmed Rufwaan Ali, 23, was arrested at Trivandrum Airport in December 2012 before spending 13 days in an Indian prison.

Speaking to media on his arrival back into Male’ yesterday (January 26), Ali alleged that officers in the prison tortured him due to his refusal to “subject himself to their instructions”, Sun Online reported.

Rufwaan subsequently clarified that he had been “beaten” in custody.

“Using the word ‘torture’ insinuates that I was exposed to extreme violent treatment which was not the case. It is also the ‘cultural’ language barrier that the Dhivehi language consists of limited vocabulary which when translated to English, can fit to a variety of synonyms,” he said, in a subsequent statement.

Rufwaan said he had been asked by reporters as to whether he was beaten in custody, to which he “regretfully responded, “It is a jail after all, and we will get beaten. Yes I was beaten. The rules of the officers there is that, once jailed we have to beg for mercy at their feet. I refused to do that, which is why I got the beating.”

Ali blamed the Maldivian consulate in India for the way he was treated in prison, claiming that Indian authorities had been about to release him before the Maldivian Consulate “communicated to Indian Customs authorities in an inappropriate manner”.

He also claimed the Maldivian consulate in India did not help to  bail him out of prison, and instead he had to rely on his family for the money.

“I first paid 25,000 rupees, and then 10,000 rupees as fine. All the help I got came from my family. The consulate there did not concern itself with me,” Ali was quoted as saying in local media.

Ali claimed that he was not aware of the ban on buying and selling peacock feathers, adding that he was unaware if the feathers were fake or not, according to local media.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Clarification: Initial reports in local media quoted Rufwaan as saying he had been “tortured” in custody. Rufwaan subsequently issued a statement claiming he had been mistranslated and that he was in fact only “beaten”.