Male, Maldives – January 10, 2024
The Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, Munu Mahawar, engaged in a pre-arranged meeting with Ali Naseer Mohamed, Ambassador at Large of the Maldivian Foreign Ministry, today. This meeting followed the summoning of Maldivian envoy Ibrahim Shaheeb to the External Affairs Ministry’s South Block venue in New Delhi. The diplomatic discussions are taking place amidst an ongoing controversy over derogatory remarks made against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, particularly in response to his recent visit to Lakshadweep.
The diplomatic row between India and the Maldives originated from offensive remarks posted on social media by several Maldivian ministers, who referred to Prime Minister Modi as a “clown” and a “puppet” following his push to promote tourism in Lakshadweep.
Munu Mahawar’s meeting with Ali Naseer Mohamed at the Maldivian Foreign Ministry aimed to address bilateral issues between the two nations. The social media backlash, marked by the hashtag ‘#BoycottMaldives,’ intensified after Maldivian remarks compared Lakshadweep’s alleged “permanent smell in rooms” with the scenic beauty of the Maldives.
In a display of support for Prime Minister Modi’s Lakshadweep initiative, numerous Indian celebrities, including Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Shraddha Kapoor, Hardik Pandya, and Sachin Tendulkar, criticized the offensive comments from Maldivian ministers. Akshay Kumar, in a post on X, denounced the “unprovoked hate.”
The diplomatic discourse occurred a day after the Maldives suspended three ministers—Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna, and Abdulla Mahzoom Majid. The Maldivian government clarified in a statement that the remarks made by these ministers were personal views and did not reflect the official stance of the Maldivian government.
Former Presidents Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives condemned the offensive remarks, emphasizing that such statements should not jeopardize the “age-old” friendship between the two nations. As the diplomatic dialogue unfolds, both countries strive to address the fallout from the controversial comments and reinforce their longstanding diplomatic ties.