Controversy arises over Modi’s visit to Indian islands

India summons Maldivian ambassador and suspends flights following insults about Indian PM’s visit to Lakshadweep islands
Tensions have arisen between India and the Maldives after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Lakshadweep islands to promote tourism.
In the Maldives, some perceive the visit as an effort to divert tourists away from the archipelago, which heavily relies on tourism.
Three Maldivian ministers have been suspended for making derogatory remarks about Modi on social media, referring to him as a “terrorist” and a “clown.” The Maldives foreign ministry stated that the comments, which were later deleted, were made in a personal capacity and do not represent the official government stance.
The Lakshadweep archipelago, located next to the Maldives, boasts similar white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, but has yet to be fully developed.
“The government believes in exercising freedom of expression in a democratic and responsible manner, without spreading hatred or negativity, and without hindering the close relationship between the Maldives and international partners,” the Maldives government stated.
On Monday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs summoned the Maldivian ambassador in response to the insults, and one of India’s major travel platforms suspended flight bookings to the islands. Many individuals in India have vowed to boycott travel to the Maldives in protest against the comments, which were denounced by former Maldivian Prime Minister Mohamed Solih as “hateful.”
The majority of visitors to the Maldives hail from India and Russia. Tourism contributes to nearly one-third of its economy, according to the World Bank.
Relations between the two countries have become more strained since the election of Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu in September.
Muizzu is seen as having stronger ties with China and campaigned on an “India out” platform, promising to reduce Indian influence in the archipelago and withdraw Indian army personnel stationed there.
This week, Muizzu is scheduled to make a five-day visit to China, but he has yet to make an official visit to India since his election—a departure from previous prime ministers, which many perceive as a snub. This visit is likely to disappoint Delhi as it sees the strategically important Maldives as crucial in its efforts to diminish China’s influence in the Indian Ocean region.

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