The two deputy ministers, Shiuna (R) and Malsha (L), who criticised India and its Prime Minister; PM Modi in a video promoting tourism at Lakshadweep.

Maldives deputy ministers under fire over 'derogatory' India comments

Some Indian newspapers and social media activists have called for an apology from the government officials.

7 January 2024

By Aishath Fareeha Abdulla

Two deputy ministers of the government have come under fire for their posts on X in which they are seen abusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India, triggering a clamour for their removal. 

Last Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a video of his recent visit to Lakshadweep to promote tourism in the region.

Some Indians have said that Modi's video was released to tell people that Indians do not have to go to Maldives for holidays and can experience the beauty of Maldives while staying in their own country.

  • An Indian social media activist reposted Modi's video and called Maldives a 'puppet country of China'

  • Claiming that Modi's video is a challenge to Maldives's tourism, some political activists in Maldives also wrote responses to the post

The threat quickly got out of hand, and comments that were highly inappropriate to make against one’s neighbouring country started appearing. People also started racially criticizing Indians. Maryam Shiuna and Malsha Sharif, who are deputies in the youth ministry, took the cake when they insulted the Indian prime minister himself.

Shiuna's tweet has now been deleted but she had described the Indian Prime Minister as a clown. Malsha also shared Modi's video on X using derisive emoji.

Some Indian newspapers and social media activists have called for an apology from the government officials.

Even locals in X have been expressing their views that senior government officials should be held accountable for what they say on their personal social media accounts and that government officials who behave in a manner that shames the country should not be kept in office.

In a post on the India-Maldives tourism dispute, former President Mohamed Nasheed criticizsd senior government officials for sidelining their professionalism in criticising India during the dispute. He also called on the government to hold these officials accountable for the disrespect shown towards the leader of a nation that played an important role in the stability and security of Maldives.

Nasheed said India should be assured that the tweets made by such people are not the policy of the government.

MRM President Faris Maumoon has said that senior government officials who speak insultingly to their allies and their leaders should be removed from their posts. If the actions of those in positions are not condemned and held accountable, there is a possibility that they are supported by the government.

Former foreign minister Ahmed Shaheed also supported Faris' remarks. The discipline and behaviour of those in senior positions should be maintained, he said.

Criticising Shiuna and Malsha's remarks, a Maldivian posted on X, reminding them that they are no longer activists of a political party and calling on them to shape their behaviour to reflect the behaviour of those in senior government positions.

Many people are calling on President Mohammed Muizzu to sack the two deputy youth ministers. Some people have questioned whether the two deputies will not think about the impact of their remarks on Maldives and Maldivian tourism.

Ismail Zariyand, who served as a senior official of the tender board, said the people of Maldives have always been an example of kindness and should not talk ill of others while being grateful for the beautiful sandy beaches they have been blessed with.

Some have also reminded the audience that their posts on social media while in senior positions should not be the same as those of social media activists and that they should be accountable to the public.

Ismail Hameed, who is involved in many tourism related activities, said in a post that the state ministers and deputy ministers represent the country and such people should maintain professionalism.

Many people in Maldives have condemned the criticism of neighbouring India and its leaders by senior government officials and many supporters of the government.

India is an important market for Maldivian tourism. These criticisms and controversies will be detrimental to the people, especially Maldivian tourism.

The government has yet to comment on the matter.