Police remove 'India Out' banners

Maldives Police Service on Thursday removed the 'India OUt' banners hanging from former President and opposition leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's residential home, H. Dhoovehi, and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)'s office building, H. Hurafaa.

Spearheaded by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, the opposition is carrying out an 'India Out' campaign to drive out Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives. The movement has gained momentum in recent months, especially in the atolls. To express their dislike for the Indian military members remaining in the Maldives, supporters of the campaign have taken to hanging large banners from their homes printed with the India Out slogan. On Tuesday, a giant banner was hung from the former President's home on the outer ring road of Male' City.

The police obtained a court order from the Criminal Court and entered the two buildings around noon on Thursday. They entered the buildings after the owners of the buildings failed to remove the banners despite police warnings.

The police first entered H. Hurafaa and removed the banner on its outer wall, and they next entered the former President's building. While the banners were being removed by SO police, Traffic Police prevented crowds from gathering near the two buildings. Although PPM supporters protested the police's actions, no unrest occurred at the scene.

Although the police removed the banners under a court order, President Yameen's legal team claimed they were removed against the constitution and laws.

Speaking to AVAS, an official from PPM said the police warned the party against hanging more banners and threatened to take legal action against any person that does so. The official said despite any warnings by the police, the party would continue to hang the banners and that the opposition did not believe any legal obstructions were preventing them from hanging the banners.