Your comprehensive guide to the raging India-Maldives diplomatic row
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently released a series of photographs from his trip to Lakshadweep. But little did he know the post is set to trigger a social media clash between India and Maldives, in addition to a low-key diplomatic row between the two friendly countries.
Last week, Modi visited the Indian island, known for its largely untouched natural beauty, to promote infrastructural development and tourism. But later on, a row erupted on social media, triggered by a minister and some other leaders in the Maldives.
Maldives suspends ministers over “derogatory” remarks on Modi
In his post on X, Modi had highlighted “the stunning beauty” of Lakshadweep and “the incredible warmth of its people”. But nowhere in his post or his official statement did he mention any island nation popular among tourists.
Majorly, Abdulla Mahzoom Majid, a senior minister in the ruling Muizzu-led government of the Maldives, triggered the ongoing row as he accused India of targeting the Indian Ocean archipelago. He later deleted his post, but the damage had already been done.
Majid’s remarks got swiftly followed by offensive and derogatory comments from high-ranking officials of the Maldivian government, in addition to prominent social media users. Those remarks not only targeted Prime Minister Modi but Indians at large.
Mariyam Shiuna, deputy minister of youth empowerment, information and arts, called Modi a “clown” and “puppet of Israel” – later deleting the post. Malsha Sharif, another deputy minister in the same ministry, also made derogatory comments of a similar nature against India.
Both have now been suspended, in addition to another government official, Hasan Zihan, deputy minister of transport and civil. The Maldivian government also distanced itself from the row and said the opinions are personal and do not represent the views of the government.
Muizzu begins China state visit despite India-Maldives diplomatic row
In 2023, Indians formed the largest group of tourists in the archipelago, representing more than 200,000 travellers – followed by Russians and the Chinese. Now, the social media clash has prompted en-masse cancellations of trips to the Maldives by Indians.
EaseMyTrip suspends all Maldives flight bookings amid India-Maldives row, begins #ChaloLakshadweep campaign— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) January 7, 2024
Read @ANI Story | https://t.co/tBdy2oQEMQ#BoycottMaldives #ChaloLakshadweep #ExploreIndianIslands
(Visual from Lakshadweep) pic.twitter.com/Q6vkoH85XH
Meanwhile, the chaos has come against a backdrop of strained relations between India and the Maldives following President Mohammed Muizzu’s ascent to power. Muizzu is considered pro-China and also began a five-day China state visit on Monday.