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India Summons Maldives Envoy Over Ministers' 'Insulting' Remarks Against PM Modi

The now-suspended ministers allegedly posted derogatory remarks over PM Modi's Lakshadweep visit.

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After the Maldives government suspended three ministers on Sunday, 7 January, for allegedly making insulting remarks over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Lakshadweep, envoys from both sides held meetings with ministers of the host country.

On Monday, 8 January, the Union Ministry of External Affairs summoned Maldives High Commissioner to India Ibrahim Shaheeb over remarks made by the now-suspended Maldives ministers, sources told The Quint. On the other hand, the Indian High Commissioner to Maldives Munu Mahawar "had a pre-arranged meeting with H.E. Dr Ali Naseer Mohamed, Ambassador at Large, at MoFA, Maldives, today to discuss bilateral issues," according to the Indian High Commission in Maldives.

The suspensions came after social media posts critical of PM Modi's visit to the union territory triggered a massive row. The suspended ministers from Maldives are reportedly Maryam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef, and Mahzoom Majid.

In the first week of January, Modi had visited Lakshadweep in a bid to promote tourism. He took to social media to describe his experience.

Then, Maldives Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment, Information and Arts Mariyam Shiuna took to X to criticise Modi's visit, saying that India was facing several challenges in competing with Maldives in the tourism sector.

"What a clown. The puppet of Israel Mr Narendra diver with a life jacket #VisitMaldives," the minister purportedly wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Shiuna's post has now been deleted.

Several people in the Maldives also took to social media to reportedly post racist and insulting comments against India.
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Opposition in Maldives Demands Action

Condemning Shiuna's comments, former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed demanded that the incumbent President Mohamed Muizzu publicly declare that the minister's views do not represent those of the government.

"What appalling language by Maldives government official Mariyam Shiuna towards the leader of a key ally, that is instrumental for Maldives' security and prosperity. The Mohamed Muizzu government must distance itself from these comments and give clear assurance to India they do not reflect gov policy," he said on X.

'Not Government's Stand'

Hours later, the Maldives government stated that the views expressed by Shiuna were his own and did not represent the government's stand.

In a statement, the Maldives government said:

"The government believes that freedom of expression should be exercised in a democratic and responsible manner, and in ways that do not spread hatred, negativity, and hinder close relationships between the Maldives and its international partners."

"Moreover, the relevant authorities of the government will not hesitate to take action against those who make such derogatory remarks," the statement further added.

The Indian High Commission in Maldives has also reportedly raised concerns with regard to the comments made against PM Modi.

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'#BoycottMaldives' Trends on Social Media

Meanwhile, several Indians, including celebrities, took to social media to call for a boycott of tourist spots across the Maldives, following the Shiuna's remarks.

Amid the row, former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar posted a video and a picture sharing his experience of visiting Sindhudurg on his 50th birthday.

 "250+ days since we rang in my 50th birthday in Sindhudurg! The coastal town offered everything we wanted, and more. Gorgeous locations combined with wonderful hospitality left us with a treasure trove of memories. India is blessed with beautiful coastlines and pristine islands. With our “Atithi Devo Bhava” philosophy, we have so much to explore, so many memories waiting to be created #ExploreIndianIslands," Tendulkar said on X.

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar also took to social media to condemn Shiuna's comments.

"Came across comments from prominent public figures from the Maldives passing hateful and racist comments on Indians. Surprised that they are doing this to a country that sends them the maximum number of tourists," Akshay Kumar said.

"We are good to our neighbors but why should we tolerate such unprovoked hate? I've visited the Maldives many times and always praised it, but dignity first. Let us decide to #ExploreIndianIslands and support our own tourism," he added.

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Actor John Abraham said, "With the amazing Indian hospitality, the idea of “Atithi Devo Bhava” and a vast marine life to explore. Lakshwadeep is the place to go. #exploreindianislands."

The row comes amid strained ties between India and Maldives of late, especially after Mohamed Muizzu was elected president of the country.

As a part of his campaign promises, Muizzu – who is said to be pro-China – had stated that he would remove a contingent of around 75 Indian military officials in the country and revise the country's "India-first" policy.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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