STATE OF EMERGENCY
On 3rd November 1988, defence strategy failed to protect Malé and the general public when a group of mercenaries from Sri Lanka climbed the island capital. National Security Services (NSS) locked the headquarters with the force inside firing weapons in air. Mercenaries held hostages shielding themselves by placing civilians in crossfire. One brave infantry of twelve soldiers tried a heroic attempt running out of the main gate and hit by bullets fired in their chests, ended in serious loss. This mistake would not repeat since military personnel and arsenal in recent time stretch out to regional interfaces identified as military zones. A wide range of strategies applied in new defence was put to test on 12th December 2012.
Perhaps not; during the tsunami of 2004 it was the supply of food, fuel and basic needs that remained stockpiled in the capital – perhaps not again.
In the preaching in local classrooms it read, “A thief securely binds his chest.” That could be the reason why supplies got stockpiled in the capital. Conceivably, such saying orchestrated from autocratic landlords who failed to rip off innocent people trying to protect their belongings and blamed them for thievery.
Former National Security Services (NSS) under the Ministry of Defence was a multi-functional body of several different defence components housed within its headquarters inside Bandèrigé to serve extensively on national security including airport safekeeping, fire and rescue, policing, public health, disaster management, traffic, sea patrol and law enforcement. Generally, this multi-purpose force had proven effective and efficient in exterminating rodents and cleaning the environment. The NSS was reorganised on 21st April 2006 falling on a date marking 114th Anniversary of national defence and security services. Two independent bodies were formed; Maldives National Defence Force or the MNDF under the Ministry of Defence and Maldives Police Service under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The MNDF body formed of eight commanding units called the Quick Reaction Forces: QRF1 – based in Malé and Girifushi Island (approximately 10 miles out) and combined with QRF4 oversee to central security of the island capital; QRF2 – semi-central northern regional command based in Kendikol, Miladun Madol Atoll; QRF3 – based in Kaddeu, Haddummathi Atoll, largest unit and the training base of the military; QRF4 – based in Hululé oversee to airport security combined with Girifushi or QRF1 central security; QRF5 – northernmost command based in Kela, Thiladummathi Atoll, oversee to airport security at Hanimadeu; QRF6 – semi-central southern regional command based in Muli, Mulak Atoll; QRF7 – southern central command based in Kuddu Island, the Suvadives, oversee to airport security at Kandeddu; and QRF8 – southernmost command based in Hithadu, Addu Atoll, oversee to airport security at Gan Island.
Each of these battalions got batteries of troops positioned in different islands of importance. One such subdivision was ‘Company Romeo’ in Fua Mulak under the command of QRF8.
In the nation of water another important body with command centre on Marine Drive in Malé was the Coastguard Unit formed under the headship of MNDF; maintain radar observation, surveillance on fishing seas (12 nautical miles measured from the archipelagic baselines as territorial sea and 200 nautical miles measured from archipelagic baselines as exclusive economic zone – Maldives territory), sea rescue, provide logistics to the Quick Reaction Forces including the police, effectively attend to disaster relief and recovery. With one aircraft and two helicopters, most ‘lost-in-the-sea’ searches done by hired aircrafts. Quite unattractive marine-corps as they appear in diesel-stained trims of olive green shirts and camouflage pants most likely out-stocked from the army. An outsmart division that did with environmental cleaning, diving in the deep and perhaps hard working corps and the only force that could capture an enemy – intruders in fishing seas.
Other key divisions under the central command were the Presidential Protection Force, motor transport, fire section, air wing and military personnel got changed locations very often.
Maldives Police Service (MPS) attended to law enforcement, social order and public safety. Under the categorical command of Commissioner X with the headquarters annexed to the defence house in the Bandèrigé block. Similarly, sub command stations established in all regions with a police academy and the largest unit of tourism police based in Addu Atoll, several miniature depots known as ‘villifulus’ existed in the municipalities of various populated islands.
As news reached Malé around six-forty people heard police blowing whistles. The gates of the defence house narrowed. Some of the blue shirt police officers came out with dogs. In a matter of minutes they took positions three blocks around the defence house. Two police officers stood by the historical Meduziyaraii gate, stopping people and traffic with roadblocks. This road cut open to north waterfront by the President’s Office. Another group of police officers lined up on Chandani Magu and the very centre of the defence house and the President’s Office fell inside the blockade. No residences existed in this area.
Meanwhile, police cars whizzed out alarming emergency sirens to those areas where public gathered during demonstrations; Lonuziyaraii-kol, Kuda Henvèru, southwest harbour, Majeedi Magu, etc. Another batch of police cars took over patrolling Malé streets, calling to train for curfew and State of Emergency. Another batch of police cars dashed to collect some important cabinet ministers and MPs.
Dark green military vehicles rolled out of the defence house packed with paratroopers wearing red berets, dropping a soldier in every corner some eight blocks from the defence house and yet some distance away blocking an area from Majeediya School in the east down south to Majeedi Magu (main road) taking over full control of the quarter north of Majeedi Magu to the reach of Odeon Junction, residential houses, people and traffic freeze within the cordon.
At that point, a red beret soldier stood at the Odeon Junction armed with a pointed 19 pound M60E3 Light Machine Gun. He was standing like a door nail to shoot or get killed. So did every lone soldier dropped at every corner posed; fully exposed.
Heavy vehicles rolled from the military garages in the southern sector of Malé, dropping more soldiers at the solo sites, unloading sandbags and piled up gun points in open range of the roads, mounted with crew-served 23 lb M60 machine guns; type of guns disbanded by the US military after the Gulf War and some disposed to the Maldives. Then the soldiers took cover behind the barricades.
Meanwhile, QRF4 swept the runway in Hululé taking control over the entire airport. All aircrafts were grounded or urgently called off and airborne flights to Gan International Airport diverted to Malé. Aircrafts in Gan were ordered to leave and transpose immediately to Hanimadeu Airport in case the unknown enemy might take an advantage of hijacking one.
Half a dozen coastguard vessels with M2 heavy machine guns mounted on coaxial stands left Girifushi Island to patrol outer waters off the coast of Hululé and the island capital. The vessels maintained range to fire anything that moved on land from outer waters. Several cargo ships anchored in Malé waters were then watched by radar scouts at the Coastguard Building and keenly observed the movements of ships en route to Malé.
A military vehicle picked the Major General and his family from his house and dispatched to Girifushi Island. Brigadier Dynn was in command at the defence house called Bandèrigé. In the meantime, digital photos of the school siege reached the desktops, press, mobiles and emails. By 19:10 hours, television was broadcasting live images of the school siege – blurred and in the dark. A fire was obvious in the area of the old police station and the Atoll Office on Nargis Magu in Fua Mulak.
Captain Adil, 29 year old, personal bodyguard, alias secret lover of the First Lady, could pass any door at the Presidential Palace. He was wired electronically to an earphone and a microphone, dressed immaculately in a deep blue coat, rather blackish, still wearing close-fitting sunglasses, carrying a muzzled MP5 under his coat. White colour motorbikes patrolled the palace area. Heavily armed squad assigned here belonged to the PPF – Presidential Protection Force.
In twenty minutes, black coloured Vitara jeeps drove out of the palace gate with men in blackish-blue coats, armed with MP5 silenced version of submachine guns. A silver-plated, custom-made, Malaysian-donated limo rolled down the tall gate with the President and the First Lady. Two more Vitara jeeps followed behind the motorcade with gunmen hanging on the open doors. A white motorbike piloted the convoy towards east to the executive jetty. This area was already under red alert, heavily guarded by the paratroopers and the police. The President and the First Lady climbed the special speed launch and took off sharp at seven, accompanied by 12 coastguard vessels of an armed fleet, heading to Aurah Island – the presidential retreat where he could watch the island capital with a Swarovski telescope, or feast in comfort.
Commissioner X was in the backseat of a black Mercedes E200, driven by a chauffeur, when he received the first call. He rushed to the headquarters annexed to the Bandèrigé Building. He reached the stairs to fill his ears of telephone rings. This day the telephone network was impaired for overflowing calls to private phones, houses, newsrooms, bureaus, shops, resorts, everywhere blood runs native to islander. ‘All-circuits-busy’ status lasted for a countless number of hours.
Just before the Defence Minister was picked by a military escort he called the Brigadier who said, “Don’t attempt to come here. All doors are closed.” In the real world, the Third World, often a civilian Defence Minister got no role when it comes down to business.
Brigadier’s first order was to take control of the island capital of Malé; powerhouses and fuel farms in the vicinity, radio stations, telecommunication centres, hospitals and arsenal. In a flash of time troops flooded the Marine Drive in red berets. All military bases in the country alerted on standby. His next order was to airlift 200 troopers of QRF1 from Girifushi with firearms to Kaddeu Island on an Airbus A330 sitting on the tarmac at Malé International Airport. Some expatriates on work permit visas commented that they had never seen this kind of preparedness.
In the meantime, 200 troopers of QRF3, MNDF’s largest military reserve in Kaddeu, geared up to transfer to Gan in Addu Atoll with artillery.
The Tourism Minister somewhere from a resort island called a representative from Airtours in order to obtain the aircraft. Whether it would pass through from the UK head office or not, they were filling it with Jet-A1 fuel.
The Education Minister was summoned to the Police HQ besides the Home Minister and he was leading the talks with the mercenary force in Fua Mulak through the school principal as of concern of the school siege.
The Foreign Minister sat at his bureau to deal with foreign offices. Unsighted negotiations took place across the seas on hotlines among the President, Major General, Foreign Minister and the Maldivian High Commissioner in India, Honourable Ribbon.
Politically the most influential and the vicious minister in the Capricorn Administration happened to be the Atoll Minister. He travelled in style with bodyguards and a coastguard vessel following his speedboat on which he spent the night at sea for greater sanctuary from opposition rivalries. He was in tour to the Southern Region and currently in Vilufushi Island.
Colonel Hamza in command of QRF3 called for battle and the force got prepared in full gear of military armour and artillery. A Lieutenant Colonel joined the Commanding Major Altaf and 200 troopers to embark for Addu Atoll. They wore camouflage uniforms, pretty neat and fresh from the wardrobes, helmets with night-vision aid, bullet-proof vests and carried AK47 rifles.
QRF8 in Hithadu likewise prepared for battle. This force in size of 300 strong paratroopers poured in army kit of the MNDF, similar to QRF3 but no helmets. Military vehicles mounted with M60 guns stretched to 17 kilometres of Hithadu Reef, comparatively a small force to brazen out a battle. Colonel Omar, in-charge of QRF8 based close to Hithadu Central in the area called Herékendé, knew his task. Lot concentration was paid to Gan and airport with anti-aircraft guns in two locations, picking range from 3 to 9 km of an aircraft approaching from both ends of the runway.
Lieutenant Colonel Salih instructed two of his lieutenants, one to take over Gan Island and the other to oversee 17 kilometres of Hithadu Reef.
A third officer, Captain Nabil, geared up 100 troopers and all vessels in the water for quick dispatch to Fua Mulak with QRF3 on arrival.
Meanwhile, QRF7 in Kuddu organised another 100 troopers to embark for Thinadu Island, 35 nautical miles across the Suvadives, conceivably for close reach of Fua Mulak, 60 nautical miles south.
Indian forces present in three locations in the country came on alert too. In twenty minutes after the school siege, an Indian Navy component based in Meedu Island contacted Colonel Omar offering assistance.
Indian Army and Navy got heavy duty artillery in the interfaces on Meedu Island, Gan of Suvadiva and Kela Island in the north. India’s plan for Fua Mulak was to build an observatory and space control station. If the space station project was done in the Equator Zone, Gan of Suvadiva would become its nerve centre for technical operation, secret facility housing control systems and manoeuvring of the floating platform launcher because it was a bigger uninhabited island and the waters calm on the northern side of the Equatorial Channel. India had not activated its space programme however military was strengthened in the Maldives. If there happened to be disturbance of the sort India expected from internal sources or abroad, Indian position at that point had the capability to retaliate effectively until an auxiliary force arrived from the mainland. Indian artillery in three of the islands set up S-125 surface-to-air missiles and anti-ship Dhanush surface-to-surface missile systems. Apart from naval activities there happened to be no air force base or a powerful military presence and this portion of manoeuvres was still regarded as part of Operation Blue Waters now run from the coast of Malabar by Bharatiya Nau Sena – the Indian Navy.
President Capricorn continued his calls to New Delhi, Washington, London and Colombo. He asked for a batch of Special Advisors to Aurah Island; none of them were ministers but potent businessmen. Among them in the Advisory Board for Presidential Affairs were Mehdi, Major General, Atoll Minister and another vital contact in Singapore. Meanwhile, President Capricorn had learnt his daughter was taken into custody and the guests in Hotel Korakeli taken hostage too.
As it called for Isha Prayer, a civilian climbed down the Oplot tank. He was a Maldivian and identified as Jaws of Sprout. He was joined by two other Maldivian in army outfits who were inside the battle tank. In few seconds they started walking south down Madand Pass and to the overgenerous mosque on Miskiimagu Pass; a broad road lying across, along the length of the island, with shady allspice trees, colourful flowery creepers and oleanders over the fences abreast the boulevard and a row of tall tropical trees standing in the middle, Belisha beacons hidden in the foliages. He was escorted by four gunmen. Several islanders followed.
The prayer call on loudspeaker reached its end. The convoy reached the grand mosque called Masjid-al-Marjan with walls glowing slimly of crystal particles of silvery rainbow colours from a sensational luminosity of pink and black coral plastered to the walls and to the detriment of the environment. This mosque was built by the Dogs from a Saudi fund.
Jaws received compliments from half a dozen Suvadivan who were already on the island of Fua Mulak and at the mosque. The Suvadives was the largest atoll in the archipelago and its people played a major role in politics, usually a controversial role because apparently their demands were never heeded by any of the central powers. In the history of hundred years, the Suvadives achieved nil. The Equator Zone cut short of progressing tourism to the north of the equator and development of the Suvadives in any nature, generally considered as one of the major atolls in the south. The Suvadives fought a civil war, armed with mallets, against the forces of the central power to demand freedom and form the United Suvadive Republic as a Crown Colony under the Union Jack. The Suvadiva Uprising was then neutralised by the c