Indian police arrested Fauziyya on November 13, 1994. She was released three years after that. In this week’s episode of VTV’s “Mehmaansara” talk show, Fauziyya reopened that chapter of her life.
In 1994 Fauziyya travelled to India to make necessary arrangements to enroll her youngest child in a school in India. However, financial constraints stopped her from moving forward with her plan. Things soon took a change for the better when Fauziyya’s friend Mariyam Rasheeda agreed to deliver the money, her elder son wanted delivered to her. Before Mariyam reached Fauziyya’s residence, she met and befriended a person at the airport. Fauziyya said that this was the first step towards prison. Their relationship resulted in connections with other people. The situation soon caught the eyes of the local police. And when Fauziyya and Mariyam decided to return after making necessary arrangements, they were not allowed to leave the country.
According to Fauziyya, they were unfairly arrested and mistreated in jail because Mariyam did not reciprocate when a police officer confessed his love to her. Fauziyya said that she was dragged into the affair due to some statements Mariyam made, without understanding that they would be penalized for them.
Initially Mariyam was arrested after being accused of living in India without the proper visa. Although police had no issues about Fauziyya’s visa. However, she and Mariyam were accused of more serious crimes such as spying for Pakistan. After interrogation at home, police instructed Fauziyya to travel to Trivandrum for further investigation. As per the instruction, Fauziyya travelled to Trivandrum.
According to Fauziyya, on arrival at the Indian Intelligence Bureau, she was flooded with questions about strangers. She said that she was accused of crimes that have never even crossed her mind. She noted that she repeatedly told the interrogators that she did not have the answers to her questions.
She said that however, at long last, both Fauziyya and Mariyam were accused and a confession was forced from both of them, after being threatened.
Fauziyya recounted the events of her first day in prison. She said that it broke her heart when they were first escorted to prison and that it was a great trial to have had to spend three years, locked up abroad, for a crime she did not commit. She said that their remand hearings were being held on a fortnightly basis which only resulted in the detention period being extended.
She said that during those three years, they were transferred to several prisons. She said that she had to spend the first month in solitary confinement in a six foot by four foot cell. She said that later however, she shared a cell with Mariyam Rasheeda.
“That would be the case right? Our crime threatened the security of India. I think that’s why, because it was such a high profile case, that we were transferred so often.
Fauziyya said that it still fills her with sorrow when she remembers the low quality food she was served and the poor condition of prison cells. She however said that she regained her strength and therefore, it became easier to live as an inmate.
Fauzziyaa said however that it was the negligence on the part of the government that saddened her the most.
“I myself phoned then President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. I still remember the response Gayyoom gave. In his letter Gayyoom said that anything that in things that happen in other countries, a decision will be made by them. And that therefore, there was nothing that the Maldivian government could do” recounted Fauziyya.
She said that there were dirty rumors about the both of them in Male’ at the time. Maldivians spoke of them in disgrace and said that they committed a dirty act. Fauziyya said that Maldivian media translated reports on the matter by Indian media, without verification.
“First of all, why don’t they think about the things we had allegedly done? They said that we spied for Pakistan. How can we do that? If only a single Maldivian thought about it this much…”, pondered Fauziyya.
Nevertheless, after three years, it was found out that the allegations were false and the confession was retrieved from the accused after intimidation and coercion. This resulted in Fauziyya’s release. Mariyam was released shortly after that.
After their released, Maryam’s lawyer sued the government on their behalf, asking for damages. However, this resulted in further difficulties. She said that one of her children who was travelling to India was interrogated by police and asked to drop the case. She said that she finally sent a statement to the police, ensuring them that she will never press charges against them about the case.
Fauziyya did return to India years after the harrowing ordeal. However, Immigration officials stopped her and interrogated her. She was allowed to leave the country, only after much interrogation. This was not the end. They somehow found her phone number and kept asking for her whereabouts. She questioned the police why they were troubling her, when she had agreed not to reopen the case.
According to Fauziyya, she can never forget the experience.
Fauziyya said that although she was able to return to Maldives after being released, the prospect did not make her happy.
“Wouldn’t that be the case? There was no one in this big country who would speak up in my defence. So, why should I be happy to able to return to Maldives?” she said.