TWO DAYS after he was not permitted to enter India off the coast of Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu, after he reached the southern port on board a tug vessel, former Maldives Vice-President Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor (37) was sent back to his country on Saturday.
Government sources in Delhi made it clear on Saturday that Adheeb was neither detained nor arrested, since he was not allowed to enter India.
Adheeb, who is facing trial in Maldives, had tried to enter India to seek political asylum, but government sources said that he was denied entry as he was not entering through a designated entry point and did not possess “valid travel documents”.
According to Tamil Nadu authorities, he was questioned on-board the vessel by various central agencies.
A police officer said a team of security personnel from the Maldives received Adheeb near the international maritime boundary.
Positive signal to Maldives govt
With a friendly government in Male, Delhi did not want to wade into a domestic political controversy. So, it showed the rulebook to the former V-P who was taking an illegal route to enter India, and then flee the country. Delhi’s moves are watched closely in Male, and this time, it acted quickly to avoid any strain in ties.
“They are sailing back to the Maldives now,” the officer said. “His original plan was to flee to UK or a similar country. He didn’t expect to be caught in this manner, neither did he trust India,” said the officer.
Sources said the nine crew members — one Indian and eight Indonesians — were also sent back to the Maldives.
On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, had said that “since he (Adheeb) was not entering India through a designated entry point and did not possess the valid document, he has not been permitted entry into India”.
Government sources in Delhi reiterated this on Saturday, and said that because he was not in India, reports about his “deportation” were incorrect.
Adheeb’s lawyers in London had requested India to grant him political asylum, citing threat to his life from the current dispensation in Maldives.
Adheeb is a key witness in a money laundering case against Abdulla Yameen, who lost the presidential election to Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in September last year. A senior Maldivian official had earlier said that Adheeb was supposed to appear before investigators earlier this week.
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