14.3 Suvadiva Uprising
Under the clouds, a mountain of waves rose and swept below the vessel carrying its deadweight into the trough. Maldive Star was doing six knots outside Fotheyo Muli. Strong and hot tea served on the open deck where the warriors rested.
Reena appeared in a kandiki knotted on the hip and a black cardigan with long sleeves. She entered the men, stepping over, knocking toes on the bumps standing in her way that they call a ‘mosquito net’.
“I swear she kicked me!” cried a deck passenger.
Reena fell on top of a guy making space between and demanding for a smoke. Her legs came uncovered to the bums between the slit of the kandiki in the rays of a descending sun. She dug into a pouch of betel nuts. Dried fish, coconut, salt and pepper never ran out.
There came two deckhands, one with a bucket and the other with paper cups. Drinks served on the deck. They filled the cups and passed on.
“What is it?” asked Reena.
Crew replied, “Rukra.”
She drank and spat out rapidly, “Vaka Hangadu! It’s raa!” her vocabulary profoundly slanderous.
Meanwhile, Nurse Rada took a glance at the sea on the castle deck in her white nurse dress.
Gamar climbed up the stairs, “Take this!” she offered a large glass.
“What is in it?” checked the nurse.
“Mira,” said Gamar, “some call it nira. Others call it dora. The Bora merchants call it sura. In any form it’s raa. Drink it!”
The vessel arrived at Gado to find the USIR ensign flying high. Virgo called on the loudspeaker to lower the jack and replace the Maldive Flag. Public obeyed and replaced the flag. Some of the Scaevola men swam towards Maldive Star not exactly knowing the number of warriors in it. They were apprehended. The Haevola climbed the island to find women and children crying in desperate state – husbands taken to Thinadu, Scaevola men raped them day and night. Young Gado boys never wanted this to repeat. They saw girls raped in front of their eyes. Scaevola men beat them with their truncheons.
Maldive Star spent the afternoon here in Gado unloading food and medicine. Gamar and Rada climbed down to stay and do little they could to heal women and children from abusive rape and sexual assault. Seven out of every ten females were harmed. There were even younger victims and too many to mention. The Scaevola was a wild gang paid to keep the Warlord and his wealth protected. In their eyes, Gado islanders were dissenters and to be treated harshly.
Doctor Sevilla wished he could stay to help them recover from sexual trauma. Fano and Katib Sputnik disembarked. Maldive Star left that night to Thinadu.
It was Friday. Maldive Star anchored outside and Virgo called on the loudspeaker likewise. A dinghy from the ship was sent with letters addressed to the chiefs to surrender peacefully. The flag was not lowered down. Here the entire population was not yielding. They stood defiant. Virgo sent his troops on dinghies to face with a scruffle. Scaevola Force and young men came out with wooden sticks and homemade incendiaries. They confronted the Haevola Force brutally.
Kasiman climbed up a coconut tree to catch a glimpse. Men on dinghies fired those Kalashnikov rifles in full-auto. Bullets hit the sandbars kicking off dust in air, then making splashes in water. Kasiman felt bullets fly pass his ears. He had the slightest idea what could happen if one got caught. Scaevola charged on in spite of the show of weapons.
Even the British supposed those arms were trafficked from Ceylon. They certainly traced a ship that arrived from Ceylon and connected to the automatic rifles – the AK47s. However, this stock of weapons came from the Russian ship Lazo in November 1957.
The British did trace the movement of Maldive Star by engaging an Avro Shackleton MR3 equipped for aerial surveillance. A frigate and a destroyer positioned in the Equatorial Channel on standby.
When the weapons were fired at the houses, people and boats, three got shot. Two big odi that arrived from Ceylon, lying beside the roofed jetty, were torched and they burnt to ashes.
Haevola Force withdrew and islanders observed Friday prayer at the grand mosque.
Then again in the afternoon, Haevola arrived on dinghies. Virgo called on the loudspeaker that guards would go into the houses to arrest offenders. There happened to be no retaliation afterwards since Scaevola sticks were no match for the Haevola guns. Haevola approached in clusters advancing through the narrow lanes, pointing Lee-Enfield rifles, in khaki drill uniforms, boots and bucket hats. For the inhabitants, those bayonets frightened them more than bullets.
Gado islanders held in captivity were freed. Atoll Chief Norton was imprisoned for a long time, rudely treated and beaten up. He was carried to the boat.
Two houses were raided – the fortified barrack of the Warlord and the house of one son. Each of these houses magnificently built. Virgo stood on the sandbank observing the harvest of gold in bullions and jewellery. All carried to the ship.
Offenders were tied with ropes by the forearms and legs. Hundreds belonging to the Scaevola and the capitalists in dissention to the central administration were gagged and dumped into the bottom of the cargo vessel. The mighty Warlord of Thinadu and his two sons were in the bottom hold who would later die in jail among others.
Another island left with women and children in the dark. Virgo gave orders that fifty men of the national guards and hundred volunteers to stay on the island to observe law and order. They unloaded food and medicine to Thinadu as well.
On 18th July, the ship sailed to Malé. It was a big moon in the sky. Nobody knew this batch of womenfolk onboard. On arrival in Malé, men disembarked first. Women climbed down in the middle of the night. Lance Corporal Alphabet who took photographs of the trip was told not to shoot them. He captured few photos of the medical team.
Fua Mulak sent a delegation declaring a cessation to the independence movement leaving Addu Atoll to deal with it on its own.
Royal Air Force in Gan also made an adjustment not to welcome folks from other atolls to work at the base. Fua Mulak and the Suvadives left to suffer famine and epidemic. A lot of people died.