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Maldives files terror charges against 18 for international yoga day violence 

Radicals disrupted the International Yoga Day celebrations in Male, earlier this year

The Maldivian government has filed charges against 18 people including former Member of Parliament Mohamed Ismail and two preachers—Sheikh Fazloon Mohamed and Adam Nishan, for creating violence and disrupting the International Yoga Day (IYD).

Former MP Mohamed Ismail has been charged with participating in an act of terrorism along with six other people. The Maldivian Islamic Ministry has suspended the preaching licences of Sheikh Fazloon and Adam Nishan for participating in the violence at the international event.

Various other people have been charged with different violations.

One person was charged with inciting violence using a weapon while three were charged with attempting to incite violence using a weapon. Many others have been charged with obstructing justice.

The Indian High Commission along with the Maldivian Ministry of Youth had organised IYD celebrations on June 21 at the Male football stadium, when a radical mob disrupted the yoga and meditation session this year.

The event at the Galolhu National Stadium was being attended by top government officials, ambassadors and UN representatives when a radical mob overran the stadium forcing people to flee the venue. The mob assaulted the venue shouting “Allah Akbar” and waving flags with Islamic scriptures.

They protestors destroyed property and threatened participants after one of the radical organisations called for stopping the yoga day celebrations for being anti-Islamic. The participants and dignitaries fled the stadium in the ensuing violence.

Maldivian opposition parties, which are known to be pro-China, have alleged that the government has charged people for the yoga day violence under pressure from India. The opposition parties also alleged that the disruption of the international event was highly coordinated and planned by the government.

The opposition parties say the violence which took place on June 21 was facilitated by the Maldivian government under the instructions of the Indian government to extend the Indian military’s presence in the country, reports The Times of Addu.

Ironically, the archipelago is a well-known destination for yoga retreats held at various island resorts and atolls. The Maldives also offers yoga and meditation teachers’ training courses along with multiple wellbeing practices and luxury holidays for foreign tourists.

Under President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former president Mohamed Nasheed the Maldives has built strong relations with the Narendra Modi government. The Solih government also introduced the India First Policy to give priority to India in its foreign policy.

Through its Neighbourhood First Policy, India has been supporting Male with grants and lines of credits for housing and connectivity projects. Indian assistance has ensured that Maldives’ dependence on China for debt laden infrastructure projects has greatly reduced.

Also read: Once known as tourist paradise, has Maldives become a safe haven for local and international terror groups?
Are Male opposition parties trying to jeopardise relations between India and the Maldives?