Social media posts, articles targeting Indian diplomats trigger strong reaction in Maldives

·3-min read

New Delhi, Jul 2 (PTI) Certain social media posts and articles in the local media targeting Indian diplomats triggered a storm in the Maldives with the country's foreign ministry as well as a leading political party denouncing such reports saying levelling false accusations and publication of such content affect decades-long relations with friendly nations.

A media report in a Maldivian news portal said the country's Parliament has requested Maldivian Media Council (MMC) to look into the 'hostile' articles on the Indian High Commission and its diplomatic staff.

India had taken up the matter with the Maldivian government and sought action against those tarnishing the dignity of Indian diplomats posted in Male.

In a communication, the Indian High Commission in Male requested the Maldivian foreign ministry to take steps to ensure the security of its diplomats and mentioned that motivated attacks were a violation of the principles of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

In its statement, the Maldivian foreign ministry said it has taken note of articles published repeatedly on local media, levelling false accusations at foreign ambassadors, missions and diplomats in the Maldives.

It said these actions affect the decades-long friendly relations Maldives has maintained with friendly nations, and create hatred among the local population towards these countries.

The ministry said such actions also put the diplomats' lives in danger and hinder their work, adding the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations stipulates immunities and privileges bestowed upon diplomats.

It said it requests local media to respect international conventions and to report in a manner that does not affect the relations between the Maldives and other countries.

In a statement, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said it is deeply concerned over the recent reports containing 'disparaging and ill-founded' remarks about Indian diplomats in the Maldives.

The MDP urged the media outlet to refrain from dragging in the diplomatic partners and allies of Maldives into their own 'political petty vendetta'.

'The website and its co-founder's continuous barrage of anti-India vitriol appear to be a well-funded, well-orchestrated and pre-meditated political campaign with the express purpose of whipping up hatred against the Maldives' closest ally, India,' the party said.

'Such campaigns of hatred carry real security concerns for the safety and security of diplomats in our country,' it said.

'While the MDP always respects freedom of expression and welcomes robust debate on foreign policy, and the national interests, MDP condemns such defamatory propaganda which is only motivated by the desire to sow discord and animosity,' it said.

When asked about the issue at a media briefing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi only mentioned the statements by the Maldivian foreign ministry and the MDP.

The ties between India and Maldives came under strain during the Abdulla Yameen regime. Yameen was perceived to be close to China.

Some decisions by President Yameen including the imposition of restrictions on work visas for Indians and the signing of a new Free Trade Agreement with Beijing also did not go down well with New Delhi.

However, the relations were back on track after Ibrahim Solih took charge of the country in November 2018 as its president. PTI MPB ZMN

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