Maldivian government today (7 January) suspended three ministers, Maryam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef, and Mahzoom Majid, due to their inflammatory social media posts against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as reported by NDTV.
The controversy erupted when these ministers and other leaders criticised PM Modi's social media posts showcasing his visit to Lakshadweep, suggesting the Union Territory as an alternative tourist destination to the Maldives.
The Maldives government, distancing itself from the derogatory remarks, stated that such opinions were personal and did not reflect the official stance.
The suspension of the ministers was announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasising the need for democratic and responsible exercise of freedom of expression to maintain positive international relationships.
The incident triggered significant backlash within the Maldives, with opposition leaders and former president Mohamed Nasheed condemning the remarks as "appalling."
Nasheed urged President Mohamed Muizzu's government to disassociate itself from such comments, providing reassurance to India amid diplomatic tensions.
This development is particularly significant given the recent strain in ties between India and the Maldives.
President Muizzu, who took office in November, aimed to alter the "India first" policy and reduce the Indian military presence in the country.
Choosing Turkey as his first international visit and later meeting PM Modi in the UAE, Muizzu initiated discussions with India on the withdrawal of Indian troops.
The geographical similarities between Lakshadweep and the Maldives, both characterised by low-lying islands, reefs, and pristine beaches, underscore the strategic importance of diplomatic relations in the region.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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