"This is the problem" said the Policeman. "Once we arrive at a crime scene witnesses are so vague and reluctant to give information, so how can we Police find those responsible?".
I did not think twice. I gave them my deduction. I told the Police about the initial harassing of the lone worker that led to mugging MRF5/-, and how a huge gang of expatriates had come and retaliated. I told them due to the retaliation, the youngsters afterward had just attacked an innocent person going to collect water from the mosque for revenge.
"Do you know the people who did this?" the policeman asked me. I told him I saw the initial attacks standing on my terrace, and that I have just told them the real story of the incident. But according to the police since I did not see clearly or know the people who did it, my statement was not very credible. But there were people who were there and saw everything that had occurred, but they chose not to speak or talk to police in a way that would identify the youngsters who had attacked the victim. We have reached the point I had made at the beginning of this post. Why is the public so afraid to help the police? Of course its due to the fear of a revenge attack by gangs, but what is the root problem?
I have not heard of a Witness Protection programme in Maldives. And I would not know if it could be even possible in a small country like ours.
The Police Commissioner had justified recently that its not the police who are incompetent in catching criminals, its the public's lack of courage to come forward and the loop holes in the justice system that lets offenders off out onto the street as easily as they are brought in.
The deeper I contemplate to find the root cause of this social behavior, I find myself going through the same list and down the same road that leads to the same conclusion. The fear, incompetent police, holes in the justice system, social values, residues of a corrupt regime,..so on and so forth. We habitually externalize our problems and short comings, blame it on someone else when we are the actual problem. And I think one thing I'm sad to admit is the lack of empathy we have towards others, and our racist outlook on the people from our neighbouring countries.
If even for once people chose to stand in the victim's shoes or someone who is related to the victim, they could empathize and feel what they would feel. Ask yourself. How would you feel if while you visit India, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh and gets mugged, harassed and made to feel inferior where ever you go? How would you feel to be treated like an animal in a foreign land?
This is one thing we as Maldivians have to accept and change within our social beliefs; a huge amount of the Maldivian public is racist and self-absorbent. Not only do we ignore, (for whatever reasons), a murder happening in front of our eyes, a slaughtering of our country's own youth, we care less than we would do even for a rag when we treat these poor struggling expatriate workers. Is this the Islamic values we claim to follow? Or are these beliefs and selfish attitude an outcome of social upbringing that happens inside our homes?I could have described to the police where the expatriate gang that had retaliated had gone to, since I saw them get away standing on my house's terrace, but I chose not to. They did the same thing you would do (if you could), if your friends or family got mugged or attacked at every corner constantly, there's no protection from the law and you keep being victimized, over and over and over again, it was already due in coming. To me it was justified. So I chose to understand and give silence when I felt it was the right thing to do. The gang of youngsters escaped with a few scrapes and a few black eyes. But unfortunately the victim who got injured simply by being at the wrong place, at the wrong time was put in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and then a few days later was taken abroad for extensive medical attention.
He did not survive.