In a sudden turn of event, former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was today arrested amid continuing confrontation between him and his successor Mohamed Waheed in run up to the Presidential polls in September, prompting India to stress on "due process and rule of law".
The arrest came less than a fortnight after Nasheed left the Indian High Commission in Male where he was holed up for 11 days to evade arrest in a case concerning the detention of Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed during his Presidency.
"Nasheed has been arrested. He will be in police custody and will be presented before the court at 4 PM tomorrow," Maldives President's Press Secretary Masood Imad told PTI.
He added that Nasheed was taken into custody after the Hulhumale Magistrate Court ordered the police to produce him in court for a hearing tomorrow for his trial.
Nasheed was picked up from his house by several dozen police wearing balaclavas and black riot gear with some armed with rubber bullet guns.
His arrest led to protests by Nasheed's supporters who also indulged in violence. President Waheed's brother too was allegedly roughed up by protesters. "Assaulting my brother Ali Waheed will not help Nasheed escape justice", the President tweeted.
Asserting that India was monitoring the situation very closely, the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi said it "expects due process and the Rule of Law would be followed".
"We would urge all concerned to exercise caution and restraint and not to resort to any violence or extra- constitutional means and steps which would weaken the democratic system," official spokesperson in MEA said.
He also said India has been informed that Nasheed's lawyers and family are going to meet him as allowed by the authorities.
Nasheed, 45, sought refuge at the High Commission for 11 days to evade arrest following his failure to attend court for what he called a "politically motivated" trial to bar him from contesting in the presidential election slated for September 7.
Nasheed left the diplomatic premises on February 23 after an Indian envoy dispatched by India to defuse the political standoff won assurances from Maldivian authorities that Nasheed would be free to campaign for presidential elections.
The ex-president himself had said there was a "fragile" understanding between India and the Maldives government that prompted him to leave the Indian mission.
However, the Maldivian government has repeatedly denied striking any deal with India for enabling Nasheed's exit from the Indian mission.
Meanwhile, in a significant development, the Maldivian Parliament today overruled President Waheed's veto on a crucial political bill requiring minimum membership of 10,000 people for recognition and participation in polls.