International News

Maldives: Two journalists, including an Indian, arrested for allegedly breaching immigration law

The state of emergency gives security forces sweeping powers to arrest people.

Two journalists – one an Indian and the other British – were arrested in the Maldives on Friday, the local police said. The two men were handed over to immigration officials, who may take action against them for working in the country against immigration rules, police said.

The island nation is currently under a state of emergency, which gives the security forces sweeping powers to arrest people.

The journalists were Money Sharma, a photojournalist from Punjab, and Atish Patel from London, a Maldives MP told Scroll. The journalists reportedly work for AFP news agency. Patel is a British citizen of Indian origin and is the South Asia video correspondent for AFP.

The Ministry of External Affairs said it had asked the Indian Embassy in Maldives to get in touch with the local authorities to ascertain further details in the matter, ANI reported.

The journalists’ arrests come a day after news channel Raajje TV was forced to go off air after the country’s military threatened the media. The Defence Ministry said in a statement that it would take action against those who publish or air content that affects the national security.

The news channel had said its journalists had been harassed, threatened and intimidated in the past week.

The MEA on Friday said, “We note that China said that the Maldives government has the ability to protect security of Chinese personnel and the institutions there. We hope all nations play constructive role in Maldives, instead of the opposite.”

Maldives has been in turmoil since the Supreme Court ordered its government on February 1 to release political prisoners. President Abdulla Yameen’s government defied the order, and instead, on February 5, declared a 15-day state of emergency. Within hours, security forces stormed into the court premises and arrested two judges, including the chief justice.

Several countries have raised concern over the developments, and the United Nations has called it an “all-out assault on democracy”. UN Secretary General António Guterres has urged Maldives to lift the state of emergency “as soon as possible”, and uphold the Constitution and rule of law.

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Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.


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This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.