Dhivehi and Islam to be taught to Maldivians in Trivandrum

Arrangements are being made to teach Dhivehi and Islam to Maldivian children residing in Trivandrum, India, Education Minister Dr Aishath Shiham revealed today.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of a workshop for principals of schools in Shaviyani, Noonu, and Raa atolls, the minister reportedly said that efforts were underway to hire Dhivehi and Islam teachers for the approximately 300 Maldivian children in Trivandrum.

She noted that offering Dhivehi and Islamic education to Maldivian children living abroad was a campaign pledge of President Abdulla Yameen.

In January, the Maldives High Commission in Sri Lanka announced that it was seeking Dhivehi language, Islam, and Quran teachers for Maldivian children residing in the neighbouring country.

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Census taking underway for Maldivians in Trivandrum

A special programme has been launched for census taking of the Maldivian diaspora in Trivandrum, India, reports newspaper Haveeru.

The census started on Saturday and  78 census forms had been filled so far, according to Ibrahim Nadheeh, president of Maldivian Social Community (MSC).

MCS was founded by the Maldives Consulate in Trivandrum and Maldivians living in Trivandrum. About 3,000 Maldivians reside in the southernmost Indian city.

Nadheeh said that he expected the census to be completed within a week and noted that proper records of Maldivians living in the city would be helpful in the future.

“In addition to this, we have plans to teach Quran, Islam and Dhivehi here. With the completion of the census, we can find out the number of children who live here,” he was quoted as saying.

In late 2012, the government announced that a national census would be conducted in 2014. The last census was conducted in 2006 by the Ministry of Planning and Development, which found the population to be 298,968.

In March 2013, the department of national planning announced that the census would be conducted in September next year under the slogan “count me in.”

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Maldivian arrested in India released on bail

A Maldivian woman arrested in Trivandrum, India, in late December 2014 has been released on bail on Wednesday, the Maldives consulate has said.

She had been arrested on charges of breaching the Passport Law and Foreigners Registration Amendment Law of India.

The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court issued the order for her release on bail on Tuesday, local media quotes an unnamed official of the Maldivian Consulate in India.

Despite the order being released on Tuesday, she had to remain in detention as extra day until the consulate was able to sort out relevant bureaucratic papers with the concerned authorities of India, local media have said.

The woman’s bail had been granted upon the legal team’s assurance of presenting her to court for a scheduled hearing.

“She was released when two persons from India guaranteed that she will be presented to court. The case is not done yet. We do not know how long it will take for the case to be completed,” the official is quoted as saying.

The official further revealed that the woman had been arrested due to matters involving the tenancy of Maldivians in a rented house in Trivandrum. He stated that the officials had previously released an order looking for the woman, but neither she nor the consulate had known about the notice prior to the arrest.

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Low voter registration by Maldivians abroad could mean no voting in London, New Delhi and Singapore

Not sure where you are registered to vote? Check here online

The Elections Commission has warned it may not be able to place ballot boxes in London, Singapore and New Delhi for the upcoming presidential elections September 7, as current figures from the commission suggest that the number of registered voters is trailing below the required minimum 100 registered voters.

Speaking to Minivan News on Thursday, Vice President of the Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz said that with the deadline for voter registration expiring on August 7, the current rate of registration could mean Maldivians residing in London, New Delhi and Singapore may not be able to cast their vote in the elections.

“However, we can only say that for sure after the deadline expires,” he said.

Fayaz said other regions outside the country where large number of Maldivians currently reside are doing well in terms of registration. So far, the commission confirmed that it will be able to place ballot boxes in Trivandrum, Colombo and Malaysia.

According to Fayaz, 652 Maldivians have registered to vote in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 225 have registered to vote in Trivandrum, India and 302 people have registered to vote in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He also said the commission is currently working to get the figures from Singapore, London and Delhi.

Despite fears expatriate Maldivians would be unable to vote, the Chair of Elections Commission Fuwad Thowfeek – who is currently on the island of Fuahmulah conducting voter education programs – appeared confident that the commission could still place ballot boxes in the affected regions as past experience suggested Maldivians tend to register “at the last minute”.

“Even during the last elections, people registered to vote in the last week of registration. This is the last week. So I believe people will register and we will be able to place ballot boxes in all regions,” Thowfeek said.

Fuwad said the Elections Commission had been collaborating with respective Maldivian High Commissions in the regions to register voters for the upcoming elections.

“We have placed a focal point for the Elections Commission in all the High Commissions including Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India and UK. This has been done on the recommendations of the High Commissions as well,” he explained.

Thowfeek said that High Commissions will help register votes during normal working hours of the respective countries, according to a  procedure is similar to that carried out in the Maldives.

“The process is similar to [registration in] Male. A person who is, say for example, living in Ahmedabad in India can register to vote at Trivandrum through a friend. All he would need to do is to send a copy of his national ID card via fax or email. Likewise, a person living abroad can even register to vote in Male, by doing the same process. It is very similar to the procedure going on in Male,” he explained.

As in the Maldives, Thowfeek also said that political parties can assist in the registration of voters abroad.

“They will have to submit the registration forms to our focal points in the respective High Commissions. Registration can then be done from the High Commissions,” he said.

The Elections Commission has meanwhile established an online mechanism through its website for people to check the ballot box where they are registered to vote.

By entering a national ID card number, the website will display the name of the voter, the permanent address of the voter and the ballot box and the location where the voter is eligible to vote.

For Maldivians residing abroad, details can also be checked at focal points established in the High Commissions, Thowfeek added.

The Elections Commission have previously announced that the Presidential Elections are scheduled to take place on September 7. If no candidate attains the required 50 percent plus one vote to secure a first round election victory a run-off election is to take place 20 days after the first election.

The commission has announced that four candidates will be competing in the elections.

The candidates are leader of the Jumhoree Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim (running mate Dr Hassan Saeed), Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed (running mate Dr Musthafa Luthfy), incumbent President and independent candidate Dr Mohamed Waheed (running mate DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali) and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen (running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel.

Check the voter registry and registered place of voting

Download registration form (Dhivehi)

In the Maldives? Check your details via SMS

To check where/if you are registered to vote, SMS 1414 ‘VIS(space)(National ID#)’

To check political party registration, SMS 1414 ‘PPR(space)(National ID#)’

Elections Commission hotline: 1414

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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”.

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Hanimaadhoo Airport to begin services to Trivandrum

Hanimaadhoo Airport in Haa Dhaalu Atoll is to begin operating international flights to Trivandrum in India as of February 2, the Transport Ministry has announced.

Acting Transport Minister Mohamed Nazim told local media that Island Aviation and the Indian High Commission have come to an agreement whereby the appropriate visa is available with the ticket.

“Island Aviation will open for the purchase of the tickets and announce the prices soon. It has been arranged that the forms, once filled out, can be submitted to the High Commission through Island Aviation,” Nazim was quoted by Sun Online.

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Maldivian hotelier arrested in India for not passing guests’ details to police

A Maldivian national, identified by Indian authorities as Salim Haji, was arrested in Trivandrum for allegedly running a hostel without informing police of his visitors’ details.

Haji was presented before the Indian court on the charge of violating the Foreigner’s Registration Act (FRA) and has been remanded in judicial custody, Haveeru reports.

Indian police were running a pre-tourism season security check to ensure that guest housing establishments had registered foreign guests with the local station house.

India’s The Hindu today reported that a small section of foreign travelers misuse their visas to run commercial operations, mainly homestays for foreign holiday-makers and Maldivian nationals visiting the city for medical treatment and educational purposes.

The article estimates that 4,000 Maldivians live in Trivandrum.

Maldivians are currently allowed to spend up to 90 days in India without a tourist visa.

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Maldivian national commits suicide in Trivandrum, phone in hand

A 22 year-old Maldivian studying in Trivandrum, India hanged himself in his room on Wednesday, October 19.

Another Maldivian residing in Trivandrum reported that the young man had been “seen having fun” earlier that day, Haveeru reports.

The individual told Haveeru that the suicide was triggered by a relationship issue, noting that the young man been found dead with a phone in his hand.

The young man was studying for a diploma in Airport Management, and was planning to visit Male’ in November. His body has been transferred to a mortuary for examination.

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More mules arrested in latest drug bust

Police have taken two Maldivians into custody at Male’ airport after receiving information from India that the pair were carrying drugs.

Twenty-five year-old Nishana Rasheed of M. Lansimoog and a 17-year-old girl travelling with her were detained by customs officers after arriving in Male’ from Trivandrum in India.

Searching their bags, officers discovered 1.3 kilograms of hash oil in polythene bags wrapped up inside bed sheets. A further search of the women found over 100 grams of heroin concealed on their
persons.

The total street value of the drugs would have been more than Rf400,000 (US$31,000), estimated Sergeant Shiyam from the Maldives Police Service.

“We would consider anything more than a kilogram to be a large bust,” Shiyam said.

The use of drug mules to get contraband into the country is a growing trend, according to the Maldivian Customs Service.

Last month four Maldivians also travelling back from Trivandrum were detained after over a kilogram of hash oil was found in cardboard boxes in their luggage.

Nishana Rasheed
Nishana Rasheed, suspected drug mule

The two men and two women claimed the boxes were given to them to bring to Male’ by another Maldivian in Trivandrum.

In April an elderly couple were detained after customs discovered them carrying a casserole dish containing more than a kilogram of heroin. They had also travelled from Trivandrum.

The prosecutor general has since charged Hussain Mohamed Manik of H. Rehi for his involvement in the crime.

President Mohamed Nasheed revealed in May that the identities of the country’s top six drug kingpins were known to the government, but said arrests could not be made before the parliamentary elections in case they were thought to be politically motivated.

Police meanwhile has appealed to travellers to inspect the contents of packages given to them by other people before travelling, as they would “have to bear full responsibility for anything in their luggage or possession.”

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