By Azra Naseem
There is a small island of about two square kilometres, called Male’, in the Indian Ocean. It is capital of the Maldives, a 1200 island archipelago inhabited by about 300,000 people known as Maldivians. If there was a psychiatric facility on this earth that could section a generalised population, Maldivians would be among the first to be locked away for life. Frequent electric shocks and, wherever possible, lobotomies, may be recommended.
In the hierarchy of life on this island, after the President come the security forces: the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and the Maldives Police Service (MPS). There are some close resemblances and stark differences between the two men who lead the institutions. Mohamed Nazim, who heads the MNDF was a key player in the coup that was not a coup; Hussein Waheed who leads the MPS, meanwhile, slept through it all. Both men love adulation. Nazim is like The Wolf in Pulp Fiction—he fixes everything. He was called in to ‘fix’ democracy before it was broken on 7 February 2012; he fixed US-Maldives bilateral relations real good; he hooked Maldives up with China even as India looked on with her mouth open; he fixed the airport and the GMR saga, Nexbiz, IGMH, the transport sector; and he ‘fixed’ Minister Shakeela.
While Nazim is The Fixer, Hussein Waheed is The Waster. Policing in the Maldives has never been this dismal. It is as if Mr Waheed is sleeping through his job, like he slept through the coup. The less psychotic among the Maldivian population have been mourning, for 63 days now, the unexplained disappearance of one of its sanest citizens: Moyameehaa, Ahmed Rilwan (also known as Rizwan). The police, under Waheed have not answered a single question about his abduction in the two months that have gone past. Whatever arrests they have made, they have done reluctantly, and released with eagerness.
The MPS is a different kind of police force, with an approach to policing quite unique in this century. For instance, among the things it has been busy doing while ignoring all serious crime include: holding workshops all over the country talking to adolescents—or in their words ‘children of marriageable age’—about ‘being prepared’ [for what, it is not known]; ‘creating awareness about police work among pre-school children’; arresting and immediately releasing drug-delaers; ‘apprehending an individual possessed by six bottles of fish paste’; charging a man who committed an act of terror with ‘stealing a CCTV camera’ and letting him go straight afterwards; and lifting a man sleeping under a coconut tree back to safety under his own roof…