The India-Maldives controversy 20 updates

According to media sources, the Maldives government suspended three of its ministers, Hassan Zihan, Mariyam Shiuna, and Malsha, for making “derogatory remarks on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following the latter’s Lakshadweep visit.”

“All government officials responsible for the comments have been suspended from their post effective immediately,” stated Ibrahim Khaleel, a spokesman for the Maldives government, as reported by the local media. Hassan Zihan, one of the Maldives cabinet’s suspended deputy ministers, had referred to the report as “Fake” and cited a tweet from the local media on the microblogging site X.

What took place?

Last week, after PM Modi uploaded a video of himself on a beach in Lakshadweep, a minister and a few other Maldivian leaders made disparaging statements about him on social media, sparking a heated debate.

The PM Modi’s recent visit to Lakshadweep was mentioned in a post by Mariyam Shiuna that has since been removed. The Indian prime minister was called a “clown” and a “puppet of Israel” by the deputy minister of youth empowerment, information, and the arts.

“These opinions are personal and do not represent the views of the Government of Maldives,” the Maldivian Foreign Ministry stated in a statement on Sunday, indicating that they were aware of the “derogatory remarks on social media platforms against foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals.”

The 20 updates are listed below.

1. EaseMyTrip announces suspension of flight reservations: Nishant Pitti, CEO of EaseMyTrip, declared that all reservations for flights to the Maldives have been suspended. Using social media, he declared, “@EaseMyTrip has suspended every Maldives flight reservation.” In an effort to promote the local destination, the firm has also joined the ‘Visit Lakshadweep’ campaign. Pitti praised Lakshadweep’s beaches and waterways, drawing comparisons to the Maldives and Seychelles, and promised exclusive deals to draw attention to the area.

2. 8,000 hotels, 2,500 flights canceled: In the wake of the tragedy, Indian tourists canceled over 8,000 hotel reservations and 2,500 airline tickets. India accounted for the greatest number of visitors to the Maldives (2,09,198), with Russia (2,09,146) and China (1,87,118) following closely behind.

3. Tour operators think the impact will be noticed in 20–25 days: Rajiv Mehra, head of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, forecasted a notable drop in travel to the Maldives in the upcoming 20–25 days. Mehra saw a sharp decline in requests and reservations, blaming it on the tensions. He made it clear that although people who have already paid might decide not to cancel, there will likely be a significant decrease in future Maldivian reservations.

4. Trends of boycotts on social media: Following the issue, a lot of people on social media called for a travel boycott of the Maldives. ‘BoycottMaldives’ has also gathered traction and is currently the most popular social media trend in India. Many seem to have abandoned their vacation plans, according to reports and claims made on social media. The Maldives’ economy is largely reliant on tourism, to which Indians annually provide a considerable portion.

5. Lakshadweep and more Indian islands under consideration as substitutes: As the divide deepened, Indians hailed the hashtag #ExploreIndianIslands as it began to trend on social media platform X (previously Twitter).the breathtaking splendor of Indian islands and asked the populace to favor them over the Maldives.

6. Celebrities participate in an online campaign: “With the incredible hospitality of India, the concept of “Atithi Devo Bhava,” and an abundance of marine life to discover.” The spot to go is Lakshwadeep, as stated by Bollywood star John Abraham in a post on X.

“India is incredibly stunning. While filming the Kalapani chapter of Veer Savarkar’s life, I was struck by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ unspoiled beauty and rich history. It’s a place that really needs to be seen, actor Randeep Hooda remarked.

7. ‘Hateful, racial’ statements are denounced by Akshay Kumar: Akshay Kumar denounced the racist and hateful remarks made about Indians, expressing dismay at the statements made by well-known Maldivians. He asked why such unjustified Hatred directed against a nation that provides significant tourism assistance to its neighbors ought to be accepted. Even though he has been to the Maldives several times and loves the place, Akshay Kumar emphasized the value of maintaining dignity. He encouraged people to support local tourism and think about visiting Indian islands. Akshay Kumar posted this message on X, formerly known as Twitter.

8. Salman Khan compliments PM Modi on his trip to Lakshadweep: Superstar Salman Khan also praised Prime Minister Modi for visiting Lakshadweep and sharing beautiful photos from the island. The ‘Tiger 3’ actor was thrilled to see the Prime Minister among the beautiful and immaculate beaches of Lakshadweep, highlighting how happy he was that these places were in India. Salman Khan made his comments on X.

9. Maldivian government disassociates itself from ministers’ “personal remarks”: The Maldivian government disassociated itself from the contentious statements made by important government figures. The Maldivian government is aware of disparaging comments made on social media sites about foreign dignitaries and prominent figures. These are individual viewpoints and do not necessarily reflect those of the Maldivian government.Furthermore, the administration declared in a statement that “the relevant authorities of the Government will not hesitate to take action against those who make such derogatory remarks.”

10. Former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih denounced the “hateful” rhetoric used against India, saying that India is a longtime friend. Other Maldivian officials also criticized the language used against India.I reject the hate speech that the Maldivian government has been using against India.authorities on social media. India and the Maldives have always been close friends, so we can’t let such snide comments undermine the long-standing bond between our two nations.” stated Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

11. In a post on X (previously Twitter), Abdullah Shahid, the former foreign minister of the Maldives, referred to the disparaging statements as “reprehensible and odious.” “I demand that the government censure these authorities. Public personalities need to act with grace. They have to acknowledge that they are now tasked with safeguarding the interests of the people and the nation and are no longer social media activists. India is a reliable ally and a long-standing friend. In the past, when we were in need, they were the first to help. Our intimate bond has been bonded by a shared history, culture, respect for one another, and solid interpersonal relationships.”

12. The Indian Prime Minister has also alarmed Ahmed Mahloof, a former minister from the Maldives, who said, “I’m deeply worried about the escalating situation regarding the sensitive comments about our closest neighbor.” The Maldives boycott by Indians would have a significant effect on our economy. We would not be able to recover from a campaign like that easily. I urge the administration to act decisively and quickly to address the problem as soon as possible. We adore India and its people, and we will always be closest to India as a neighbor.

13. One of the Maldives’ main tourist revenue streams is boycotting the country after three of its officials made fun of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indian celebrities and citizens have been urging people to avoid the sun-kissed retreat in favor of their own beaches.

14. Modi uploaded pictures of himself snorkelling and strolling along a beach in Lakshadweep, a southern Indian island chain in the Laccadive Sea, off the coast of Kerala, to social media platform X. This sparked a controversy.

15. Though Modi did not specifically name the Maldives in his article, his gushing praise of the stunning landscape of the lesser-known islands may have been seen as a charm offensive to lure tourists there rather than the Maldives.

16. In response to his article, three Maldivian authorities described Modi as a “terrorist,” “clown,” and a “puppet of Israel,” according Reuters.

17. A senior Maldives source told Reuters on Sunday that the Maldives government swiftly distanced itself from the remarks made by the three officials, who are deputy ministers in the Ministry of Youth Employment, Information, and Arts.

18. The Maldives government acknowledged receiving reports of “derogatory” remarks on social media, but emphasized that the remarks were “opinions are personal” and did not necessarily reflect the government’s position.

19.“The government feels that the right to free speech should be used responsibly, democratically, and in a way that doesn’t incite hatred or harm the close ties that the Maldives has with its foreign allies,” the statement stated.

20. The current spat comes ahead of Muizzu’s visit to China, and was taken up by Chinese state media outlet Global Times that praised the president’s foreign policy and said, “It only demonstrates that Muizzu is treating India with a normal mind-set and steering the relationship between the Maldives and India to a normal state-state relationship.”

India-Maldives relationship

Maldives holds a significant position as India’s crucial maritime neighbour within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). It plays a special role in initiatives such as ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and is a focal point for the Indian government’s priorities under the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy.’

Mohamed Muizzu, the president of Maldives, made headlines soon after his swearing-in ceremony in November 2023 when he asked India to withdraw its military presence from the Maldives archipelago (island group). India has maintained that the military presence there is mainly aimed at providing medical support to the distant islands of the Indian Ocean nation. President Muizzu subsequently met PM Modi during the climate summit in Dubai on December 1.

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