Anti-gang task force a temporary measure until bills passed, say police

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam has said a special operation to curb rising in gang violence is a temporary measure taken by the police that has proven successful since in began in March this year.

”These are just temporary measurements taken by the police and this way we can curb the rise in gang violence for the time being,” said Shiyam.

”But can only take permanent measures when the necessary bills are passed.”

‘The more gang activities increases, the more police would increase their own activity, Shiyam explained. ”Police special operations are controlling the gang violence temporarily.”

Shiyam said that more than 85 people were arrested in three nights.

”We arrested 40 people one night, 15 on the next and 30 the next,” he said, ”and crime rates have decreased. Some of them have been released by the court.”

He said that police destroyed the wall of Galolhu Masodige after being granted a court order.

”During some operations where we think police might be attacked, we use masks to cover our faces,” he said.

”Sometimes police officers get injured trying to control assaults and gang related crimes.”

He said the recent string of multiple stabbings was related to “an ongoing gang war.”

”It’s just one gang attacking the other and it goes on like that,” he said. “It started after one boy was attacked near Galolhu Sinamale.”

Police have recently arrested many people to try and curb raising gang violence in Male’.

When the special operations started, police said it would not be stopped until the city became a peaceful place.

On 20 March, in a highly-publicised operation intended to reduce gang crime in the capital Male’, police arrested 22 men suspected of being key players in gang violence.

Police sub inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the men were arrested in different areas of Male’ and are were “notable gangsters” involved in gang violence.

Police also collected chairs, sofas and weapons from places where gangs lived, to stop gang members congregating, and stored them in the police tow yard.

On March 25th, following the arrest of 26 people in a special operation to try and curb rising gang violence in Malé, Minivan News spoke to three gang members, on condition of anonymity, to try and learn if both the operation was proving effective, and what was contributing to rising gang violence in the first place.

Rising gang crime: a timeline

During last year on December 28, prominent businessman Ahmed Ibrahim Didi, known as ‘Campus’ Didi, was stabbed and robbed of almost US$300,000 in cash by unknown assailants.

On December 30, the manager Mohamed Rashaad Adam and an employee of the Sunfront store on Majeedhee Magu were attacked on their way home.

On January 7, the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS) launched a rehabilitation program for recently released inmates who were serving time for minor drug offences. There were 62 former inmates enrolled in this program, with more than 150 still awaiting clearance.

On January 10, a man was attacked and stabbed with a sharp object in the early hours of that morning. According to police, he man was attacked by a gang of six men. A boy under the age of 18 was arrested in connection to the case.

On January 17, police arrested 19 people in connection with the stabbing of Ahmed Ibrahim ‘Campus’ Didi.

On January 20, head of the police drug enforcement unit Mohamed Jinah claimed “it won’t be long” before police arrest the remaining four of the top six drug dealers identified by President Mohamed Nasheed.

“Two of the top six drug dealers have been arrested. We will arrest the remaining four as soon as possible,” he promised.

On January 23, a group of men allegedly gang raped a woman on Fuvahmulah after dragging her to a beach and restraining her husband.

On January 28, six men were injured in a fight between two groups in Gnaviyanni Faumulaku, and one of the injured men died while receiving treatment.

On  February 7, a 15 year old boy and his 35 year old father were attacked and stabbed by gang members in  Hulhumale’.

On February 8, a businessman was attacked and robbed of Rf435,000 (US$33850) and US$7100 on Janavary Magu near Sonee Hardware.

On March 1, President Mohamed Nasheed criticised the judiciary during a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally and said that the government would not back down and will continue to arrest drug dealers.

On March 2, a man driving a pick-up truck was stabbed near Vaadhee Fresh in Maameyo Magu.

On March 3, the country manager of Habib Bank was stabbed and robbed in his home by a gang of four masked men. During the incident he suffered injuries to his nose, forehead and right arm but was not seriously hurt.

On March 8, police arrested three men in connection with the armed robbery of Habib Bank’s country manager.

On March 15, four men forcibly entered DhiTV studios and attacked five senior officials at the station afternoon, shortly after the station aired a report on its 2 o’clock news claiming that Ibrahim Nafiz, ‘Chika’, had been released to house arrest. Three hours after the alleged gang attack on DhiTV, a Haveeru employee was stabbed in the back.

Abdul Razzag Adam, 39, who works at the printing department, was knifed outside the Haveeru office building while he was on his cycle.

On March 25, a well-known flower shop on Sosun Magu, Cactus, was robbed by a group of intruders who threatened staff with knives and box cutters.

A witness to the incident, who spoke with the staff, told Minivan News that three men entered the flower shop and threatened the staff with knives and cutters, and stole Rf35,000 (US$2700)

On March 26, a group of 15 men abducted, drugged and gang raped a 20 year old girl while reportedly filming the incident with a mobile phone.

On March 30 the Maldives Police Service (MPS) claimed some politicians were using gangs to cause unrest, intimidate people and attack opponents.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that “police have learned some politicians have used gang members to create unrest.”

On April 19, police arrested 22 people including four children under the age of 18 in Laamu Gan, after they were attacked during a wave of gang violence.

Police alleged gang members broke the glass windows of a shop in the industrial area of Mathimaradhu, burnt down a hut in Mulurimagu [district] and broke the windows of two houses. When they tried to stop the gang members, police claim they they were attacked and a police vehicle was damaged.

On 3 May, two men on a motorbike stabbed a 16 year old child in front of two police officers on Ameenee Magu near Imadudeen School, before fleeing.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that the two police officers were investigating a motor vehicle accident when the incident occurred. The boy injured his lungs and arm during the stab.

On 26 May, a taxi driver threatened a 19 year-old girl with a knife inside his car. The girl was forced to give money to the driver while she was traveling to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

On 29 May two men stabbed a 14 year-old boy in eight places, injuring his lungs and liver.