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Tensions Rise Between Maldives And India Over Diplomatic Spat

Tensions between India and the Maldives escalated further this week as India lodged a strong protest with the island nation over "derogatory remarks" made by a senior Maldivian minister against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 


India's Ministry of External Affairs summoned the Maldivian envoy in New Delhi to express "deep concern" over statements by the Maldives Minister of State for Home Affairs mocking PM Modi at a public event last week. The minister referred to PM Modi as "dumb" and criticised his policies towards the Maldives during the ongoing diplomatic standoff between the two countries.


In a stern diplomatic note, India accused the Maldivian government of failing to take action against the minister for the "blatantly disrespectful remarks" which it called "against diplomatic protocol and basic civility." India has demanded that the Maldives government publicly condemn the remarks and ensure such statements are not repeated by officials in the future. 


The Maldivian ambassador has conveyed regrets over the incident and affirmed his country's commitment to cordial ties with India. However, no statement directly condemning the minister's comments has been issued by the Maldives government so far. 


This flare-up comes amidst already high tensions between New Delhi and Male over the Maldives' recent embrace of China despite its traditionally close ties with India. The Indian government imposed economic sanctions and initiated a naval blockade of the islands after the Maldives allowed China to open a full-fledged military base last year.


Problems escalated after President Mohamed Muizzu assumed office in November last year. The new president has indicated a shift in foreign policy, signalling closer ties with China and a departure from the previous "India first" approach. The latest remarks against PM Modi are seen as indication of worsening anti-India sentiment among sections of the Maldives government. 


Indian foreign ministry officials stated they are running out of patience with "constant provocations and insults" by Maldivian leaders. Sources said additional punitive measures are being considered to force the island nation to retract its deepening security cooperation with China. 


The boycott Maldives movement in India has also gained momentum this week with travel agencies refusing bookings to the island destination. Indian celebrities have called for avoiding travel to the tropical islands popular with tourists and known for scenic luxury resorts. 




- Akshay Kumar: He called out the hateful comments from Maldivians and urged Indians to explore their own islands. 


- John Abraham: He expressed his support for Lakshadweep and the people of the region


- Vir Das: He spoke about Indian celebrities and influencers being "terrified to post" Maldives pictures on social media amid the ongoing tensions


- Sara Ali Khan, Janhvi Kapoor, and Urvashi Rautela: These Bollywood actors posted photos of Lakshadweep amid the Maldives boycott. 


With tensions ratcheting up, international observers worry that the situation may spin out of control. Both India and the Maldives have built up maritime forces around the islands and appear on the verge of escalating from diplomatic skirmishes to outright naval confrontation.


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged both sides to exercise restraint and offered to mediate along with the US, EU and other parties. However, neither India nor the Maldives seem willing to back down at present. The Maldives insists it will not be bullied into submission while India refuses to accept the growing Chinese presence in its sphere of influence. Unless one side climbs down or agrees to talks, the odds of conflict remain disconcertingly high.


With patriotic fervour around the standoff building in both countries, the room for diplomacy appears to be shrinking. The latest flashpoint over the Maldivian minister's remarks against the Indian PM further complicates the chances of de-escalation. For now, citizens and the international community hold their breath as two nations once called "close friends" edge closer to open conflict.

Article By Smayra Virmani

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