Fear was seldom experienced, only at times in an incident like the tsunami of 2004 or drama at high seas struggling on a capsized boat or a bump on a wave. Most unnatural deaths caused by narcotic related crime. Most people got frightened of spirits and jinni from old beliefs that veiled a scourge on the islanders.
On the Twelfth Night it was terror in Fua Mulak but it never occurred to the people in Malé where it all created malefic drama. Usually, islanders slept very late and slept a good half of the day. By morning light, they fell tired. MPS knew nothing could go wrong during daytime and in all probability the quietest time of the day until dusk.
Media continued to bring the news reminding of an ongoing curfew in state. Live pictures transmitted from the crisis zone continued on and improving every minute. Six in the morning, state released curfew and permitted movement on the streets in Malé but traffic not allowed; hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, local shops and concerned government authorities to remain open while other bureaucracies and commerce remain closed. Day thirteenth was officially closed for the public. State of Emergency continued.
During this time of the year it was habitually annual holidays and schools were closed. People from other islands visited the capital and many a lot visited abroad. Resort hotels would prepare for the upcoming Christmas and New Year.
Seven o’clock news in the morning happened to be in ordinary life the most important nine minutes of bulletin for those who cared to listen. In nine minutes, Voice of Maldives, national radio broadcasting centre, brought breaking news of the speech delivered by the Prime Minister of India declaring a surprising invasion of the Maldives. An invasion meant nothing to anybody who usually never listened to radio in the recent time. Nobody knew what it meant just like the islanders knew not what a tsunami was before 2004.
In Malé, the streets suddenly turned silent, the parté fallen asleep. In areas people flocked to listen to news or rather gossips, rumours or fabricated rhetoric passed by the opposition. In the houses families cried to hear the loss of relatives and loved ones in Fua Mulak siege.
A press conference was called at eight in the morning held outside the former Presidential Residence called Muli-augé, right in front of the old Friday Mosque. For good reason, the mansion of the Presidential Palace called Theemugé where President Capricorn stayed for over three decades was forgotten and left behind for a washdown.
Reporters and photographers were allowed to pass Meduziyaraii Magu to reach the press conference and the main gate of the Parliament House because a session was called at nine o’clock, soon after the press conference. Armed paratroopers in red berets stood by the gun posts out in the sun.
Generally, Madam Keshàe declared the airport open, the invasion false and unrealistic, the Southern Region closed for flights, assessment on fatalities, loss and cost in progress by Maldivian authorities and Indian military, a search and rescue ongoing under Operation Twelfth Night and mission accomplished.
Madam Keshàe continued, “General Public in Malé, Addu and Fua Mulak! We are desperately in need of blood. We are supplying blood from the blood banks in Malé and Addu. I call upon all able citizens to donate blood to the blood banks. We will run out of blood. Any donor can attend any hospital and give blood.
“We welcome foreign and international support in a time of crisis this nation is undergoing. Besides, we will set up a unit for donations to help the people of Fua Mulak in course of the day. We appeal for voluntary work from organisations and private sector. Particularly the people of Addu Atoll to assist in cleaning task with the Fua Mulak islanders.
“On behalf of the Maldivian people, I thank the Government of India and Prime Minister Lotus for the quick response and engagement paved to end the siege. On behalf of the Maldivian people, we thank the governments of the countries over the world, the people and the global societies for unlimited support and readiness in assisting us in every way. We grieve over the loss of lives of innocent people, ours and foreign. My prayers go with the bereaving families. This session continues, I conclude here with appreciation to the MNDF and MPS for their brave undertakings,” she dismissed without taking questions. She did say nothing about the number of casualties or whether the country would appeal an international criminal court for justice or even call it an act of terrorism.
Following the minister, Lieutenant Hannan and Assistant Police Commissioner Dafiq, each gave a brief report and answered some questions but apprehended to give details in casualty figures or political issues.
Significantly, none of the top ranking officers of the military still appeared in public.
According to the military spokesman, it was an act of terrorism and war crime. Every person involved in the military coup would stand trial. Lieutenant Hannan was asked about the invasion claimed by India. He said, “We are not regarding the parachute jumps as invasion. The Ilyushin aircraft entered Maldivian air space without authorisation. Indian troops have transgressed into Maldivian property in Kela over KEP. Those incidents are serious matters this country will raise with the Government of India.”
“What about the Prime Minister’s address, the Indian Flags hoisted in the interfaces and the National Anthem performed in Meedu?” asked a reporter.
“I don’t speak for the Indian Prime Minister. We ask for an explanation for the rest of the matter. As you know, there is an Indian Flag on every military interface in this country, all the time, raised at six in the morning and lowered at six in the evening. The additional group of paratroopers could be a backup team. I have nothing to say over the incidences now.”
A quick session of the Parliament was attended at nine in the morning and the Speaker appointed three posts and a mandate to hold election in three months. Madam Keshàe Dawud, the Home Minister, became the interim President. The Finance Minister, Mr Monk, was appointed as Chief Minister a newly designated post. Mr Uztaz of the Dogs became the Chief Justice. It took only thirty minutes and the session was over.
Media rushed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Foreign Minister’s press conference, “There has been no dialogue in exchange between the two nations. No written evidence, no such request, nothing and I take this matter seriously. I am in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi. They have no knowledge about an invasion, only the Indian Prime Minister could explain what he meant by it. We are waiting for a call. In any case, those incidents will be raised with India and submitted to the United Nations.”
“Have you spoken to the Foreign Minister?” one journalist asked.
“Did you call the Indian High Commissioner?”
“No. The interim government hasn’t demanded to summon the High Commissioner for an explanation but to my knowledge the Maldivian High Commissioner in India, Honourable Ribbon, has been called to attend the South Block.”
Since Malé International Airport was open after the parachute jump on Kela Island, two flights arrived from Trivandrum and three from Colombo. Most of the tourists cancelled their holiday tours. Others reluctantly had flown quite unsure if they would ever get refund for hugely expensive bookings to any so-called paradise in the Maldives.
Five minutes to nine, the Police Commissioner, Brigadier Dynn and other star officers, surrounded by armed bodyguards of the sea blue camouflage, brushed pass a crowd of agitated journalists and photographers from overseas who arrived on empty seats of the flights and stuck again at the airport looking for a fare to the south. The top brass climbed from the executive jetty, headed briskly to the VIP lounge spraying perfume on the trail. Typically the smell was liquor at the airport. They came out to the tarmac, still walking fast, heading towards an aeroplane under G-Force control. A dozen of sea blue camouflage police stood on guard by the plane. Each carried a Sten gun; an old British supplement to serve armies of the Commonwealth. Often during riots, the sea blue camouflage appeared when situations grew out of control in the hands of the usual blue shirt police officers representing the Maldives Police Service. Mehdi was picked by the sea blue camouflage he referred to a military police. Some observers would argue that the face of a military officer could appear in the outfit of the sea blue camouflage but not in blue shirt of the MPS and the face of a blue shirt police officer could appear in the sea blue camouflage but not in army camouflage of the MNDF. Since the uprisings of 2006 the sea blue camouflage acted as a military police in double camouflage and categorically known as the G-Force.
The executive class wearing moss green coats belonged to the senior staff officers of the MNDF and navy blue coats belonged to the MPS. The top brass were not in field clothes, not even the ordinary official outfits designed suitable for the tropics but they wore tailormade wool coats and dress uniforms made in the UK for the order of Maldives Government and absolutely not spun of yarn. Humiliation or arrogance; they were not supposed to embrace a victory or unite in a function but the unexpected situation of invasion haunted them. The top brass dressed spotlessly and clean shaven, though of lower ranks obviously, least liked the idea of mock by the Rear Admiral spun of yarn on the frigate ship. Only class could separate things now…that always made a Maldivian Maldivian. Not a button of the coat, not a hole on a button was produced in the country. A Maldivian is Maldivian only to the skin. Forty-seven years of independence did not last from power or money or diplomacy but from sense of show-off; a unique quality of decency and a classic strategy of intelligent gossipers.
They embarked the Island Aviation flight which was already boarded of doctors, nurses, media, forensic experts, blood, medicine and police dogs. Extensively, everything they carried in hand or worn were imported, including the dogs, apart from blood of the customary donors who ceaselessly donated for a contingent of a thalassaemia society.
Since leaving the dockyard, Inspector Jabir got engaged at work that would require tediously long time. He attended on Mehdi’s body at the airport. He ordered to pick the Suvadivan six who supported Jaws of Sprout into police custody and check the houses they stayed. Police ransacked those lodges in search of weapons and clues. Inspector Jabir brought the Suvadivan six to the airfield where the captured terrorists of Force Nine were locked up in a hanger. His first task was to identify the faces of the terrorists and obtain figures.
QRF7 had climbed Villingili, Kolamafushi and Madaveli in the Suvadives, islands that belonged to Jaws of Sprout, Sheik Radeef and Mr Girali respectively and cordoned many houses and shops associated to them.
The only mercenary who clearly surrendered by dropping the gun and raising his arms on the rooftop of Efrémen Secondary School was Captain Gysha and the most senior officer of Force Nine captured alive. Five of the dogs shot dead. Maldivian military feared dogs more than bullets. A sixth dog was shot by Ibroman Monez.
Weapons collected were transposed to Doondigam house. None of the dead bodies been removed until investigations could be conducted by both the MNDF and the Indian Navy to assess the loss and cost. Finally, the last phase of operation would be cleaning the atoll soil. For this reason, the Atoll Chief placed an order for large amounts of detergent, white cloth and timber for coffins.
As the Dornier 328 landed at 8:10 hrs, Superintendent Azmyl picked the Chief Superintendent of tourism police and paced to Doondigam house. He knocked the door to the little locker room and ushered himself in, “I brought you a souvenir.”
Captain Harris asked, “What’s it?”
“Come, have a look!”
They walked to the front hall. Captain Harris saw the moss green vehicle parked on the road by the low boundary wall.
“It’s all yours,” said Azmyl, “This baby belongs to Company Romeo.”
“Salvage from Salvation Army. First time I have seen daylight this morn.” Captain Harris expressed.
“We’re the best scavengers. I’ll take a squad car from here. We are going to take a look around, visit the hospitals and back at the airfield.”
“Good. I have work to do. I’ll be out to catch the Brigadier’s flight.”
Major Mustag picked the officers in a police car and headed to Hotel Korakeli to begin an inspectional tour. Lot damage done to the hotel, mainly the portion of second floor balcony where the hand grenade blew up, walls come apart. Spoilage from contaminated water could be beyond estimate. Air around hadn’t cleared of aerosol and pyrotechnics. Commodore Sharma in charge of Operation Turquoise and the MCF in action met with Colonel Omar in charge of QRF8 for the first time here and not in Gan.
Atoll Chief Hanim completed an inspectional tour with the two senior officers, Captain F K Natwarlal Singh and Lieutenant Commander C K Lakshman, of the Indian Navy dropped earlier from the helicopter. Near Funad hotels, locals and tourists gathered around the blown up vehicles, photographers and sightseers. One of the QRF soldiers was showing cracks on the walls of the houses caused from missile shockwaves.
Atoll Chief suggested, “We have to clear this debris of twisted metals. Back to old days when we got no cranes and dockyard. We made rafts to unload heavy trucks to the island and raise a sandbank on the shore. It washes away in a matter of days. Every time we make the costly berth setup. Not easy in these rough waters. If we attach drums and pull the wreckage into water, we may be able to move them to another place.”
Captain Natwarlal spoke of his idea which the Atoll Chief found quite absurd, “We bring in a Sikorsky skycrane to lift them and find a way to fly the aircraft off the runway. Maybe we have to tug the landing craft out of the beach waters. We saw it from the helicopter. It’s blasted off in the engine room. We move these items to Gan of Suvadiva. I am pretty sure those power packs on the engines are intact. If so they could be handy and reusable.”
Then the Atoll Chief received a call from Major Mustag who reported the Brigadier’s flight was coming to land.
“Excuse me! I have to go now to receive the top brass. Anything you want, ask the boys.”
“Fine,” captain replied, “We hang around in the hotels here. We’re expecting Commodore’s call.”
Atoll Chief left them at Funad and headed to the airport.
Brigadier sat expressionless in the flight when it landed on Fua Mulak airstrip at 9:55 hrs. As the plane decelerated at the end of the airstrip and took a U-turn, it emerged in view of the Brigadier’s panel, an aircraft blown up in its tail and cockpit, its fuselage open, lying to ashes on the field, engines and firemen working on the site. He jolted in a shock and got strapped back to the seatbelt fastened on. He often raised voice to exhibit command, “What the hell is it? A bloody mess! Did you see?” and nervously patted his forehead with a handkerchief, spotting sweat.
Commissioner X observed calmly.
Finally, when they disembarked, Brigadier Dynn caught sight of a half-naked girl with a submachine gun and diveskin knotted on the waist standing by the gate. He missed a step in reaching the Atoll Chief and Colonel Omar waiting with other star officers. Brigadier asked, “Who are they?”
“Blue Sharks, sir,” Major Mustag replied.
Colonel Omar ordered, “Captain, give them dry clothes.”
Captain Harris affirmed, “Yes sir,” with a brief salute and hurried to deal with it. The top brass moved towards the air terminal gate.
Commissioner X dropped shrewdly behind the line and reaching the female lieutenant, he patted her bare shoulder. She swiftly took a salute. He whispered, “Good work! I didn’t know the Blue Sharks carry hand grenades under bras.” She stood astute.
After that the Blue Sharks appeared in black T-shirts and camouflage pants of the Cocks, wearing body armour, black helmet and in wet soles of the divers.
Consequently, the Brigadier ordered to design a light blue bodysuit as underclothing for the Blue Sharks – the Environmental Protection Force. Sadly, none of the eighteen members of the Blue Sharks was awarded with the most esteemed Medal of Honour, the Palm Leaves, in deliberation to the fact they appeared half nude. Quite irrationally, the Cocks who fought in work outfits were decorated with Palm Leaves. However, the Blue Sharks and the rest received medals of bravery, wound badges and Turquoise Colours of the Twelfth Night and to their pride the Green Leaf for environment protection on 21st April of the following year.
At the VIP lounge, Brigadier o