The Maldivian government on Sunday suspended three ministers over their derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mariyam Shiuna and Malsha Shareef, both deputy ministers of youth empowerment, information and arts, and Hassan Zihan, deputy minister of transport and civil aviation, have been suspended, Maldivian media reported on Sunday evening.
All the three had made scathing remarks against the Prime Minister, who was visiting Lakshadweep.
Following this, the Indian High Commission in Male on Sunday raised with the Maldivian government the issue of derogatory comments made against the Prime Minister
The government is currently trying to make the Union Territory a major tourism destination.
A Maldivian lawmaker criticised Modi following his Lakshadweep trip, inferring that New Delhi is attempting to project it as an alternative tourist destination to the Maldives.
“The Government of Maldives is aware of the derogatory remarks on social media platforms against foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals. These opinions are personal and do not represent the views of the Maldives government,” a statement released by Male on Sunday said.
“Moreover, the relevant authorities of the government will not hesitate to take action against those who make such derogatory remarks,” it added.
It said the government believes that the freedom of expression should be exercised in a democratic and responsible manner, and in ways that do not spread hatred and hinder close relationships between the Maldives and its international partners.
Earlier in the day, websites of the Maldives President’s office, foreign & Tourism ministries were down & unreachable in a suspected cyber attack, according to Maldives media. The websites were later restored.
The comments by the Maldivian ministers had elicited major condemnation from Indians online.
Many had also called for cancelling bookings to the island nation. Indians make up a major chunk of incoming foreign tourists to the Maldives.
Major Maldivian political figures, including ex-president Mohamed Nasheed, had condemned the remarks.
Ties between India and the Maldives have strained after President Mohamed Muizzu was sworn into power in November 2023.
First Published: Jan 07 2024 | 8:34 PM IST
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