On Sunday (7 January), the government of the Maldives disassociated itself from the disparaging comments made by its minister, Mariyam Shiuna, directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The government issued a statement clarifying that the 'opinions are individual and do not reflect the stance of the Maldives Government' after boycott calls emerged in India.
The Maldivian government asserts that the right to express oneself must be implemented responsibly and democratically, without inciting hate or negativity, and it should not obstruct the strong ties between the Maldives and its global allies, according to their official statement.
“The relevant authorities of the government will not hesitate to take action against those who make such derogatory remarks,” the statement added according to Hindustan Times.
A significant uproar ensued when Shiuna, the deputy minister of youth empowerment for the island nation, insulted Prime Minister Modi with derogatory terms such as 'clown' and 'puppet', referring to his recent visit to Lakshadweep.
The minister swiftly removed the X post following a significant uproar on social media due to his controversial comment. The remark was harshly criticiaed by former president Mohammad Nasheed, who described it as 'appalling'.
Nasheed expressed his shock in an X post over the "appalling language" used by Mariyam Shiuna, a government official of the Maldives, towards the leader of a crucial ally, who plays an "instrumental" role in the security and prosperity of the Maldives.
The Maldivian government issued a statement following India's expression of discontent regarding the inappropriate and unacceptable remarks made by a junior female minister. This incident occurred while Maldivian President Mohammad Muizzu was in Beijing seeking financial aid.
Despite the Maldivian government's efforts to distance itself from the statement, it has inadvertently exacerbated an already strained bilateral relationship, particularly since the pro-China Muizzu assumed power on 17 November.
Muizzu, a Sunni Salafi Muslim, emerged victorious in the Maldivian election, running a divisive campaign against India, specifically advocating for the removal of Indian troops from Maldives.
However, it's worth noting that aside from unarmed crews, there are only two Indian helicopters on loan, one Dornier plane, and one offshore petrol vessel present in the Muslim-majority island, with no actual Indian army soldiers stationed there.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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