A court in United Kingdom has said that Indian Coast Guard forces carried out a seaborne assault to “capture” Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of the Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum in March 2018, The Indian Express reported on Sunday. Latifa was captured off the coast of India on March 4, 2018, after an operation by special forces and taken back to Dubai on the instructions of her father.
Judge Andrew McFarlane said he accepted as proved a series of allegations made by the Dubai ruler’s former wife, Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, during a custody battle over their two children at London’s High Court on Thursday, according to AFP. Haya, the half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah, fled to London on April 15 last year with the children, Jalila, 12, and Zayed, 8, fearing for her safety amid suspicions that she had had an affair with one of her British bodyguards.
Her lawyers argued that Mohammed’s treatment of two older daughters by another marriage showed her children were at risk of being abducted too.
During this hearing, it was proved that Indian special forces helped the Dubai ruler capture his daughter in 2018 and returned her to the emirate in what was her second failed escape attempt. “She was pleading for the soldiers to kill her rather than face the prospect of going back to her family in Dubai,” the judge said. “Drawing these matters together I conclude, on the balance of probability, that Latifa’s account of her motives for wishing to leave Dubai represents the truth,” he added. “She was plainly desperate to extricate herself from her family and prepared to undertake a dangerous mission in order to do so.”
In his 34-page judgment, McFarlane mentions India’s role at least 17 times. The verdict quotes Latifa’s close friend Tiina Jauhiainen. She is a fitness instructor and first met Latifa in late 2010 when she started giving her lessons in capoeira, a martial art. According to the account, both of them escaped from Dubai at 7 am on February 24, 2018. On March 4, they were heading for Goa on India’s west coast and then intercepted by Indian special forces. “Smoke grenades or gas, together with gunshots soon led to the crew and passengers being subdued,” the verdict said. “At one stage, after TJ had been dragged to the deck with her hands tied behind her back, she saw Latifa lying face down on the floor with her hands similarly bound. TJ says that the Indian servicemen kept shouting ‘who is Latifa’ over and over again.”
The verdict also quotes Jauhiainen saying each crew member was “badly treated by the Indian forces”.
The Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Defence have not reacted to India’s alleged role in the operation. Relations between India and UAE have become stronger since the last few years.
The court also ruled that the Dubai’s ruler ordered the abduction of two daughters and orchestrated a campaign of intimidation against his former wife. The judge said Mohammed arranged for his daughter Shamsa, then aged 18, to be kidnapped off the streets of Cambridge in central England in 2000, and had her also flown back to Dubai.