India, Maldives summon envoys; Israel walks into the spat praising Lakshadweep’s “enchanting allure” 

The External Affairs Ministry summoned the Maldivian envoy to India over remarks posted on social media against PM Narendra Modi by ministers of the Maldives Government

January 08, 2024 10:53 am | Updated 09:50 pm IST - New Delhi

The logo for  social media platform X. File

The logo for social media platform X. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Ministry of External Affairs on Monday summoned the Maldivian envoy in the backdrop of the ongoing war of words that erupted after three deputy ministers of the new government of President Mohamed Muizzu posted remarks that were found to be disrespectful towards India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the midst of diplomatic dialogue to deal with emerging the situation, the Embassy of Israel has stepped into the case and posted photographs of Lakshadweep on the social media.

On January 8, High Commissioner of Maldives Ibrahim Shaheeb was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs. The Indian side however did not issue an official statement on the discussion that took place with the Maldivian envoy. Soon thereafter the Indian High Commissioner to Male, Munu Mahawar was met by Maldivian authorities indicating that this could be a tit-for-tat move from Maldives.

However the High Commission of India in Maldives clarified the matter and said, “High Commissioner Munu Mahawar had a pre-arranged meeting with H. E. Dr Ali Naseer Mohamed, Ambassador at Large, at MoFA, Maldives, today to discuss bilateral issues.” On Sunday, sources had informed The Hindu that the Indian High Commission in Male had taken up the social media messages by the three deputy ministers “strongly” with the Government of President Muizzu.

In the meanwhile in an apparent response from the remarks from Maldives’ deputy minister for youth affairs Maryam Shiuna who had mentioned Israel’s ties with India in her now deleted social media post, the Israeli embassy here has waded into the controversy and come out praising the tourism potential of Lakshadweep. These deputy ministers had responded in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Lakshadweep during which he had highlighted the beautiful beaches of the islands. In the backdrop of their comments, President Muizzu suspended the three ministers — Maryam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef, Mahzoom Majid.

The Israeli embassy here however waded into the social media driven diplomatic spat and said on January 8, “We were in Lakshadweep last year upon the federal government’s request to initiate the desalination program. Israel is ready to commence working on this project tomorrow. For those who are yet to witness the pristine and majestic underwater beauty of #Lakshadweepislands, here are a few pictures showing this island’s enchanting allure.” 

Maldivies row escalates; envoy reaches MEA HQ in Delhi

Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer, who is currently in China accompanying President Mohamed Muizzu on a state visit, took to social media platform X and said: “The recent remarks against foreign leaders and our close neighbours are unacceptable and do not reflect the official position of the Government of #Maldives. We remain committed to fostering a positive and constructive dialogue with all our partners, especially our neighbours, based on mutual respect and understanding.”  

Foreign policy experts, too, are concerned by the dramatic escalation in tensions between the neighbours. In a post on ‘X’, Former Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao noted: “In the age of social media, foreign relations and the practice of diplomacy are easily eroded by ill-advised remarks made irresponsibly by persons in the public domain. Which is what happened in the Maldives. The resultant backlash in India was to be expected. I only hope that India-Maldives relations which are too vital and strategic recover lost equilibrium as soon as possible. These are not ties to be trifled with. They matter too much. To both countries. We are equal partners. And must stay that way. This is not about sand and beaches.”  

Meanwhile some within the Maldives fear that the recent developments may impact the island nation’s tourism industry, in the wake of online campaigns in India calling for a boycott of the Maldives.

The emerald seas and plush resorts in the atolls of the Indian Ocean archipelago have been drawing Indian tourists in large numbers. Over the last two years, India topped the Maldives’s source market with maximum tourist arrivals. In 2023, as many as 2,09,198 Indian tourists visited the Maldives. Russia and China were the second and third largest source market.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.