Pro-Govt vs Anti-Govt rally; Police obstructs one and protects the other

According to Maldives Constitution and practiced law, Maldives Police Service must never discriminate in their attempt to provide safety to the public as well as apprehending culprits of the law and order.

Which also means they should not discriminate between supporters of political party and their movements, as long as it does not compromise public safety and national security. Be it the ruling party or opposition parties.

Following the Supreme Court order of annulling anti-defection law and ordering the release of as many as nine jailed political leaders including the former President Mohamed Nasheed was heavily welcomed by the opposition movement.

The supporters of the multi-party opposition decided to celebrate this victory and gathered at the Henveiru camp of Maldives Democratic Party (MDP). The mob did not commence a walk or even a protest, it was a gathering to celebrate their apparent triumph and express their joy.

Police had not intervened for hours until the then police chief Ahmed Areef was officially dismissed from responsibility. Minutes after this, riot-geared Special Operations officers reached the vicinity of opposition supporters.

They had then commenced a violent push-back of the mob, with the help of brute force and tear-gas canisters. Some supporters were injured while a video showing officers manhandling one individual and leaving him after he fainted made waves across social media platforms.

Police service would not act on their own on such situations to control or interrupt opposition movements. They will be instructed from the high-command, who are in turn commandeered by state heads.

While authorities had used brute force to push the opposition supporters back from their rallying point, making arrests along the way, they were seen in a different shade on Saturday afternoon when ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) supporters gathered at the party's campaign office at former West-Park venue.

Authorities were on full security detail around the vicinity. Instead of pushing back supporters and using force to break mob ranks, officers on site were instead redirecting vehicle traffic to alternative routes and ensuring the safe progression of pro-government movement.

Why the partisanship from authorities? Why would they obstruct on rally and ensure safety on the other one?

Both incidents involved political activists and party sentimentalists, including supporters gathering to a location of their political party's established camp, to express their opinion and show support to the leaders and movement they follow. So why the prejudice from an authority that is vested with the protection, preservation of the civic and constitutional rights of everyone regardless of their political affiliation?

Such differences in action by authorities could raise the question of possible influence by top-level figures on the local police department.

Interestingly the Act providing right to assemble or protest was revised to state that political movements in the capital city can be hosted at the Alimas Carnival area - at the east-end of Male' - meaning that protests held in other venues was in violation of the right to assemble act.

Opposition supporters gathered around artificial beach area for their celebrations while ruling party backers and supporters attended the west-end site, which was clearly a far-off point from the east-end venue. However police had intervened the opposition rally on claims of assembling at a restricted zone, but the same was not applied to pro-government rally for assembling at a similarly restricted area.

PPM supporters had urged others present in the area to come to the streets and gather around the roads, which resulted in temporary blockade on traffic. The west-end area, adjoining the Maldives Ports Limited site is a high-traffic area for heavy vehicles including trailers and trucks traveling to to the logistics ground - which does not close business hours at all.

It was a nuisance for many travelers trying to reach to their destination from this point which had included many vehicles trying to transport goods to and from MPL site.

But surprisingly, instead of instructing the mob gathered near former West-Park area to make way for the traffic, police had redirected the traffic to smaller and more constricted roads.

Social media has heated up with comments and criticisms from people pointing out the discrimination and favoritism by an authority that must refrain from doing so. A department responsible for bringing individuals, entities or leaders found guilty of such for questioning and probing, is in fact protecting the interests of one political party while obstructing the other.

Its worth pondering over about the state of the country where a transparent and just department responsible of upholding the Constitution and constitutional rights of everyone are ardent to safeguard on political ideology while attempting hinge another.