Giving a clear signal of India’s disapproval of the domestic political unrest in Maldives arising out of the arrest of former president Mohammed Nasheed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has skipped the country from this itinerary to Indian Ocean neighbours beginning March 10.
Nasheed was arrested on charges of terrorism on February 22. There was no official reason given to the Maldives being dropped from the list of countries. But it is understood the intent was to send a clear signal that India remains unhappy about the way domestic politics unfolded following Nasheed’s arrest. India had expressed concern over the arrest of Nasheed — a former human rights activist who was President of the country from 2008 to 2012. Some of the developments under Abdulla Yameen, elected in 2013 have had opposition accusing him of stifling them to remain unchallenged in power. And meeting political leaders across the spectrum would have been ideal for Modi on his first trip to a key neighbour like Maldives.
Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party welcomed India’s decision in a statement that called it a “clear sign of Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to democracy and stability in the Maldives.”
“We are concerned at recent developments in the Maldives, including the arrest and manhandling of former President Nasheed,” a statement from the ministry of external affairs had said about the arrest and manhandling of Nasheed earlier.
The statement had then “urged” all concerned to calm down the situation and resolve their differences within the constitutional and legal framework of Maldives.” Modi’s itinerary now includes Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka from March 10 to 14.