As the row between Maldives and India continues to spiral after three now-suspended Maldivian ministers made derogatory remarks against PM Modi and India, former Deputy Speaker of the island nation Eva Abdulla on Sunday labelled the comments as “shameful and racist”. The ex speaker also apologised to India and requested Indians to end the boycott campaign against Maldives.
Talking to NDTV, Ms Abdulla, who is also a sitting MP, said the outrage over the comments was understandable. “Indians are rightfully angry. The comments made are outrageous. However, the comments are in no way a reflection of the opinion of the Maldivian people. I’d like to apologise personally to the people of India for the shameful comments made,” she said.
The row began after some Maldivian ministers posted insulting remarks targeting India and PM Modi for posting photos and videos from his visit to Lakshadweep where he was seen snorkelling and relaxing on the pristine beach. His posts prompted social media users to choose Lakshadweep as an alternate holiday destination to the Maldives.
Later, the three ministers Maryam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef and Mahzoom Majid were suspended. “Those who made such posts on social media while in government positions have now been suspended from their jobs,” the Maldives government said in a statement.
Ties between the two nations have been strained ever since Mohamed Muizzu, seen largely as a pro-China leader, was elected President. Following his election to the top post, Muizzu pushed for the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Maldives on the grounds of security. The president is also on a state visit to China from January 8 to 12.
Ms Abdulla also reiterated the importance of strong India-Maldives ties and said the island nation depended on “long-standing ally” India for economic gains, trade, education and tourism. “This is not an attitude the Maldivian government can take towards India. I hope these comments are a one-off occurrence and the current administration will come down hard on anyone who has made such comments so they can not be expressed again,” she said.
The Maldivian MP also appealed to the Indian people to end the #BoycottMaldives campaign and “come back” to the islands for holidays. After the row began, many Indians on social media claimed that they cancelled their planned holidays to the island nation and several Bollywood celebrities also pitched Lakshadweep as an alternate tourist destination.
“Comments from one or two people should not be a reflection of the way Maldivian people see India. We want to ask Indians to return to Maldives and end the boycott campaign,” she said.
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