The former Vice President of Maldives, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor, who arrived in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin on a cargo vessel without any valid documents on Thursday, was sent back to the archipelago in the Indian Ocean by the Coast Guard, the Tamil Nadu police said today.
Ahmed Adeeb was planning to seek political asylum in India, citing a threat to his life in the Maldives where he faces trials in alleged corruption cases, NDTV reported.
He had been living under house arrest in the Maldives.
“The Coast Guard has taken his custody. We don’t know their plan. The government may have asked Maldives to send a vessel to take him,” a police officer in Tuticorin told NDTV.
There are designated entry points through which foreigners are allowed entry into India, the government has said. “The entry is facilitated on the basis of appropriate valid travel documents. In the instant case, since he was not entering India through a designated entry point and did not possess the valid document, he has not been permitted entry into India,” Foreign Minister spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said the day Ahmed Adeeb was found on the vessel off the Tamil Nadu coast.
He had planned to enter the shores using a boat, police sources told NDTV. Officials intercepted the barge mid-sea after a tip-off, and Ahmed Adeeb was held on board and not permitted to step foot in India.
Ahmed Adeeb, 37, became the youngest vice-president of the island country in 2015. The same year, he was sacked after being arrested in connection with a bomb attack targeting then President Abdullah Yameen. He was released from jail in May after his conviction was overturned, but still faces corruption charges in a separate trial.
According to investigators, Ahmed Adeeb was secured while on board a barge (a flat-bottomed ship normally used in canals and on rivers) named Virgo 9, which had returned to Tuticorin with a crew of nine, including Mr Adeeb. The rest of the crew had valid documents but Ahmed Adeeb’s passport had been confiscated by the Maldives government.
He had earlier served as tourism minister and chair of the Economic Council.
India and the Maldives enjoy a strong relationship, with Maldivian Defence Forces Chief Abdulla Shamaal thanking New Delhi last month for playing the role of a “security guarantor” for peace and stability within the greater Indian Ocean region.
“…our geographies bind us together. Having the greater Indian Ocean region… and the Maldives located right in the middle of the Indian Ocean region makes us natural friends and very close neighbours,” Shamaal said at an event in Delhi.