Maldives suspends three officials for insulting Indian PM Modi | Social media messages

Three deputy ministers have been disciplined over social media posts about India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Maldives government has suspended three deputy ministers after they made derogatory comments about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media.

Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna and Abdulla Mahzoom Majid, all of whom worked for the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Information and Arts, were punished for their anti-Modi comments on social media, a senior government official told Reuters on Sunday.

The three had Modi on the social media platform

In the Maldives, some saw Modi's visit as an attempt to draw tourists away from the globally popular Maldives, whose 1,192 Indian Ocean islands are dotted with luxury resorts.

According to Indian media reports, the Indian High Commission in the Maldives has raised the issue with the Maldives government.

Some Indian celebrities, including Bollywood actors and sports stars, expressed dissatisfaction over the Maldivian officials' comments.

“I have come across comments from prominent public figures from Maldives making hateful and racist comments about Indians. “Surprised that they would do this to a country that sends them the most tourists,” Akshay Kumar, a popular Indian actor, said on X.

In one opinion On Sunday, the Maldives Foreign Ministry admitted that it was aware of derogatory statements on social media platforms against foreign leaders and senior figures.

“These opinions are personal and do not reflect the views of the Government of Maldives,” the statement said.

Former Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih condemned the use of “hateful language” against India.

“India has always been a good friend of Maldives and we must not allow such callous remarks to negatively impact the centuries-old friendship between our two countries,” Solih said in a post on X.

A senior administration official told AFP that Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu had ordered an investigation.

The official said Muizzu was worried about the impact as Indians are the largest group of foreign visitors to the Maldives, where tourism accounts for almost a third of the economy.

China trip

The dispute comes days after President Muizzu announced he would visit China. On Friday, China's Foreign Ministry said Muizzu would pay a state visit to the country from Jan. 8 to 12. Both India and China vied for influence in the region.

Muizzu, who won presidential elections in September, campaigned for a change to the Maldives' “India first” policy and promised the withdrawal of a small Indian military presence of about 75 troops. Last month, he said India had agreed to withdraw its soldiers from the Maldives.

But after coming to power, Muizzu toned down his anti-India rhetoric and said he would not upset the regional balance by replacing Indian troops with Chinese troops.