Maldives govt suspends 3 ministers after ‘derogatory’ remarks on PM Modi amid Lakshadweep visit: Report

09:16PM Sun 7 Jan, 2024

The Maldives government suspended three of its ministers- Mariyam Shiuna, Malsha and Hassan Zihan- for their ‘derogatory remarks on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following the latter's Lakshadweep visit., local media Atoll Times reported.

The local media quoted Maldives government spokesperson Ibrahim Khaleel, “All government officials responsible for the comments have been suspended from their post effective immediately".

One of the suspended deputy minister of Maldives cabinet, Hassan Zihan, had quoted a local media tweet on microblogging platform X and had called the news “Fake".

Earlier, the government of Maldives issued a statement clarifying their stance on Minister Mariyam Shiuna's remarks on PM Narendra Modi's Lakshwadeep visit. The Maldives government which saw a sudden surge in cancellations in tourists from India, said that they would not hesitate to take action against those who make such “derogatory remarks".

In a statement on Sunday, the Maldivian Foreign Ministry said they were aware of the "derogatory remarks on social media platforms against foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals".

A row erupted on social media last week when a minister and some other leaders in the Maldives used derogatory remarks against PM Modi after he posted a video of him on a beach in Lakshadweep.

"These opinions are personal and do not represent the views of the Government of Maldives," it said.

The post by Mariyam Shiuna -- which has now been deleted -- featured the pictures of PM Modi from his recent visit to Lakshadweep. The Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment, Information and Arts, referred to the Indian prime minister as a ‘clown’ and a ‘puppet of Israel’.

In retaliation more than 8,000 hotel bookings, as well as 2,500 flight tickets, have been cancelled after a Maldivian minister insulted Indian PM Narendra Modi, various social media posts claim.

Earlier on Sunday, former president Mohamed Nasheed described the remarks by the Maldivian ministers as “appalling" and asked President Mohamed Muizzu’s government to distance itself from these comments.

Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb “strongly condemned" the derogatory and racist comments made by a group of Maldivian politicians towards prime minister Modi.

The Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in its initiatives like ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ of the Modi government.