Visuals of an angry mob disrupting an International Day of Yoga event in the Maldivian capital surfaced online. The event was organised by the Indian High Commission and was attended by international diplomats including the Indian Ambassador to the Maldives, state dignitaries, and members of the public.
The mob were carrying placards, banners, and flags as they barged into Galolhu National Stadium, where the event was being held. They threatened those present to vacate the stadium.
After the initial chaos, the police used tear gas and pepper spray to stop the violent protest and the event was resumed without any further glitch.
Reaction from Maldivian Authorities
The Maldivian police and government took immediate cognisance of the matter.
The Maldivian President, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, tweeted that an investigation has been launched into the incident and the incident is being treated as a matter of serious concern. He assured that those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the island nation issued a statement strongly condemning the violent acts. It said that such malicious acts of violence aimed at disrupting public safety and undermining the security of individuals and the diplomatic corps will not be tolerated.
Authorities have launched a special investigation into the incident. It added that the International Day of Yoga has been celebrated in the Maldives since 2015.
Maldives Police Service has made six arrests. It suspects the involvement of the opposition party, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM). In its statement, it mentioned that demonstrators used items which were procured from PPM’s party office.
Though PPM has condemned the attack, its involvement in anti-India propaganda cannot be denied. It has been spearheading “India Out” campaign, which has been deemed a threat to national security and illegal by the Maldivian President.
Hinduphobia Triggers Anti-Yoga Protests
An Islamic organisation, ‘Ilmuveringe Gulhun’, had written to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, calling Yoga a “dangerous thing against Islam and the Maldivian Constitution under the name of exercise.” It urged the ministry to stop the celebrations being planned to mark World Yoga Day.
Malé City Council rejected the location application by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment and the Indian High Commission to hold the International Yoga Day event at Rasfannu beach, citing public complaints against it.
Social media hashtags such as #StandAgainstYOGA and #No2YOGA were used to mobilise people to stage violent protests against the World Yoga Day event.
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