Mr D C Ron Waite, appointed political official by Secretary Sanders, scrambled within the atoll and walked in through the doors without knocking. Waite gathered key figures and told them it was time to think it over and reconcile. Many leaders agreed though Adaran remained defiant.
On 23rd September 1963, two juveniles climbed the post at the defunct and scorched Atoll Office on Mahan Magu in Maradu in the midnight and tied the Maldive Flag so that it could not be lowered. Island Chief saw it in the morning and knew it meant trouble. He called two folks to untie it. They declined.
Adaran called an immediate meeting noting that Maradu had defected. After long discussion, they decided to continue on their own, without holding negotiations with the British or Malé. They knew Hulu-Meedu would follow soon. Their reaction was to summon the Diavola Force, brothers from Feydu and Hittadu, to attack Maradu defectors and bring down the flag.
One key member suggested, “We so far relied on them and now they are using force to change it over. We men, we must do something now.”
Adaran shook his head in anger, “The English could not be ignored because the USIR depends on them.”
Ron Waite did it this way – those who would not accept the flag couldn’t step on Gan – the swing. Hittadu folks would be banned from working at Gan.
Adaran was simply a man. Eventually accepted defeat and arrived at Gan shore with three other councils. The Commanding Officer of RAF Gan Air Station demanded, “Who has landed in the soil without permission?” An RAF police stood between them.
Adaran answered to the CO, “I have no knowledge of trespass.”
Wing Commander Ieuan Hammond put in question, “What is that you want?”
He replied, “I’m Adaran. We come willing to accept Malé rule. Surrender and abolish the USIR.”
“Repeat it!” said the CO.
At that point Adaran was isolated and Ron Waite met privately to advise him to forget all about the United Suvadive Republic.
Four were heading home when a speedboat with armed men reached and picked the four back to Gan. Commander Hammond said that he heard some of Hittadu and Feydu folks were going to attack Maradu islanders over the flag. Adaran assured that it won’t happen. He returned with a Maldive Flag to raise at his office.
At that point Adaran realised that he could not save his neck and doubted that the Maldive Government would honour its pledge to pardon him for his role in the secession movement. He cited the British Government’s letter of protection and told the RAF Command that his decision to seek asylum.
On 30th September 1963, he was in fact the first man to leave the new republic. Adaran, his wife and three sons embarked HMS Loch Lomond, the guard ship of Gan. Before boarding on the frigate, Adaran demanded that he would like to be sent only to a Muslim country.
On 2nd October, Adaran arrived in the Seychelles, escorted by Hitie, a Seychellois who was working at the RAF base at Gan.
The British unceremoniously tore apart the new insurgence and lowered the flags of the USIR.
At Golden Court, Anthony Davis told Prime Minister Virgo, “Adaran and his family are given asylum in the Seychelles.”
Virgo replied, “Who gave you authority to carry Maldivian citizens abroad? This would add to the British Government interference in the Maldive Islands’ internal affairs. You have breached the agreement.”
Anthony Davis responded, “The British can do and will do whatever they want. Do I have to remind you that on 16th December 1887, Maldive Islands signed an agreement recognising the suzerainty of the sovereignty of the Great Britain. The Maldive Islands belong to the Crown of England.”
Prime minister dropped his gaze and remained hushed for several minutes. When he looked up, his fiery eyes and dark round face gave some fright. His voice was deep and low, “We want independence.”
“You must be joking!”
Virgo said, “Next time I see your face, make sure we speak independence.”
At Whitehall, Ron Waite was hailed for handling the situation very well. He returned to Gan because many things still remain unsettled, the Adduans felt neglected and there were attempts to disrupt work at Gan.
On 4th April 1964, Anthony Davis revealed to the prime minister that the British Government would be willing to grant independence to the Maldive Islands if the Maldive Government would promise that the conditions under which Gan and the land in Hittadu had been leased to the British remained the same. And invited the prime minister to visit the Great Britain.
Eventually, the Maldive Islands declared independence and signed the Agreement on 26th July 1965, at 10 am, at the Residence of the British High Commissioner in Colombo, between Prime Minister Virgo and the British High Commissioner Sir Charles Walkin who later would become the Ambassador to the Maldives.
The Maldives extended diplomatic ties to many countries around the globe, including Israel. The Maldives became a member of the United Nations on 21st September 1965.
Virgo became President of the Second Republic in November 1968 after abolishing the monarchy.
The British maintained Gan Island and handed back to the Maldivian Government on 1st April 1976. The last British troops left on 29th March 1976 with a small ceremony at the base.
The Russians approached to acquire the base in Addu for 30 million US dollars per year. President Virgo replied, “We will value the freedom we earned. ‘Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full’ is the swing.” He dismissed the offer very politely.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the Maldives on 13th March 1972, on the royal yacht Britannia in its journey across the Indian Ocean. 12000 inhabitants of the island capital were out to welcome the Queen. She visited the Market Square, schools and hospital, watched a football match between the Maldivians and the crew of HMY Britannia. She departed to Addu Atoll and stopped there on 15th March.
Even the National Anthem had to be modified for the Queen’s visit because it was sung over the years to the tune of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – the Scottish folk song.
President Virgo was awarded the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George – KCMG.
Meanwhile, the British came up with a solution in their system to buy the lots of plantations of the Chagos Archipelago by a newly created British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and separated the Chagos Archipelago from the British Colony of Mauritius.
In 1966, Britain leased Diego Garcia to the USA for fifty years. Between ’68 and ’73, two thousand native islanders of the French Creole were evicted. Most of them shipped to Mauritius and the Seychelles.
A hard-fought independence and it was not easy to obtain. Knowing it, the Maldives, as now known, voted against the Chagossians, as now known, to obtain independence in their home of the Chagos Archipelago – there goes another group of people on the swing to fight for their freedoms.
“Along with the birds go some Tarzans or Man Fridays whose origins are obscure…”
– END –