'Jekyll and Hyde' approach of Maldives police

The Maldives political platform 'exploded' on February 1 with the shocking order by the country's apex court to release as many as nine political dissidents including former president Mohamed Nasheed.

This was legit a completely unforeseen and unprecedented decision by the top-court that sent the island nation's government into a spiral of shock and awe.

But one thing after the other, both ends employing clever tactics to win their side, it may appear that the president of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom may have won the battle for now, but the war rages on as he struggles to see out the remaining few months of his tumultuous tenure. The opposition may feel a wee bit aggrieved as their 'celebrations' on February 1 have been cut short by

Five days later, the head of the state announced a state of emergency temporarily locking-down more than 20 constitutional rights and several judicature rights.

The suspended rights granted the state with the power to arbitrarily detain any dissenting voices or anyone who could have been posing a threat to the 'national security' of Maldives.

Moments later the former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was arrested. Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and top-court judge Ali Hameed and even the judicial administrator suffered a similar fate eventually. That's a clean-bowl!

Virtually uncontested and unrivaled the country's head of the state had almost every single constitutional power on his side, even the security forces. How this was identified as a 'true democracy' by ruling party is beyond anyone's comprehension.

But what was the most ironic and hypocritical is not about the narratives extended by the ruling party executives. It was from Maldives Police Service.

The civilian watchdog is also handed down the responsibility of protecting and serving the citizens of Maldives without any discrimination - regardless of their political ideologies.

This was clearly not indicated from their action on the night of February 1, when special operations officers of the police force, geared to teeth headed into the mob that had gathered in front of Maldives Democratic Party's (MDP) camp at Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Henveiru - right in front of the artificial beach.

What was supposed to be a peaceful celebratory eve turned into one with violence and confrontation when trained officers used their force against harmless and quite vividly unarmed civilians who only attended to express their political ideology.

But they were shoved and violently manhandled for simply coming out to express their joy. A constitutionally mandated right; freedom of expression. An act that has been constantly misused and exploited by the ruling party members whenever they talked on the podium to vehemently character assassinate anyone who politically opposed them.

But when individuals of the opposition attempted in reciprocating in similar manners, they are condemned and threatened with immediate police action.

A constitutionally mandated right for all civilians, that has not been set with conditions but is very much generalized. In short, everyone is subjected to the right. But why authorities act with impunity towards one political movement and treat the other with harsh eventualities?

Where one political movement was free to gather, rally and cry out chants in support of their beloved and 'dearest' president, with full police protection up to the extent the traffic were diverted to other alternative routes resulting in massive roadblocks the other end did get such a privilege.

Is it even legal for a transparent policing body to employ such a partisanship approach?

Keep in mind, gatherings from both pro and anti-government movements took place before the state of emergency was declared. Meaning that the right to gathering was still not suspended.

But the pretext under which authorities repressed opposition rallies was to 'prevent any series of event that may threaten the national security and pose danger to the safety of the citizens.'

Irony is that the safety of the citizens, who just like every other person existing in the community but with a different political ideology, was compromised.

Authorities had also stated that the opposition movements took place in a location that was 'illegal for gathering' or in other terms a green-zone. But the pro-government protesters gathered initially held a rally at the north-west end of Male' - the section of the outer-most road which leads to Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) the country's main commercial gateway. Another green-zone.

But instead of breaking the gathering or redirecting them towards a rally-point, police had in fact cordoned off the entire block creating a massive traffic blockade in the section. It is one of the busiest sections of the outer-most road of capital city Male', since heavy-duty vehicles frequent the road transporting back and forth from port carrying shipments - an operation that does not pause for even Fridays or Saturdays.

So why were the pro-government protesters allowed to in fact distort the peaceful transition of vehicles transporting across the road? Simple; pro-government.

Even after the state of emergency was announced, authorities had continuously intervened in opposition gatherings. Severing the intensity to the point authorities had blocked activists and anti-government sentimentalists from accessing Maafannu Kunooz, a prime-camp for the multi-party opposition rallies.

Other than 'under the state of emergency, right for gathering has been suspended' or 'opposition movements posed threats to national security' authorities were unable to place any factual citations as to why they were impeding the gatherings conducted by opposition.

And if their rallies were indeed obstructed because of the temporary suspension of the constitutional right citing as such, then why were authorities partial towards it by allowing incumbent president and his supporters to gather and rally?

Its no longer a hidden fact, but an ultimate truth that the local policing authority is indeed under the influence of the head of the state and they cannot escape the reality of their 'two-faced' approach in dealing with these political movements.