Maldives rejects ‘India Out’ campaign, describes India as ‘closest ally’
The Maldives government on Wednesday rejected what it said were attempts to spread “false information” through social media using the “India Out” slogan, and described India as the country’s “closest ally and trusted neighbour”.
The government in Male issued a statement in response to a fresh campaign in the media and social media that alleged cooperation between the governments of the two countries is undermining the national security and sovereignty of the Maldives.
The statement said the strong relationship between the Maldives and India is based on shared historical and cultural ties and matched by dynamic people-to-people contacts. “India has always been the Maldives’ closest ally and trusted neighbour, extending constant and consistent support to the people of Maldives on all fronts,” it said.
Though the statement did not name anybody, it is believed opposition parties and a section of the media in the Maldives have been engaged in renewed efforts to whip up anti-India sentiments. The “India Out” slogan was first used on social media platforms last year.
Recent media reports, especially in Dhiyares and its sister newspaper The Maldives Journal, have sought to create an impression that India is seeking to establish a military presence in the Maldives through ongoing security cooperation.
The Maldives government’s statement coincided with the new Indian high commissioner, Munu Mahawar, presenting his credentials to President Ibrahim Solih at an official ceremony. Solih “highlighted that the Maldives and India share a special relationship and that no third nation can take India’s place”, according to a readout from the president’s office.
Solih and the Indian envoy spoke about strengthening bilateral relations, especially in security cooperation, socio-economic development and climate change.
The Maldives government’s statement said cooperation and support provided by India, specifically on issues of maritime security, is “aimed at strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries and to ensure the safety and stability of the Indian Ocean region”.
It added: “Support provided by India, on areas such as search and rescue capabilities, casualty evacuation, coastal surveillance, and maritime reconnaissance, directly benefit the Maldivian people. The Government of Maldives has also established partnerships with other countries in similar areas of cooperation, to enhance technical and strategic capacities.”
Maldives defence minister Mariya Didi recently told Raajje TV that none of the Indian military personnel present on Maldivian soil “carry weapons” and their presence poses no risk to national sovereignty.
The statement further noted that no country could tackle threats such as trans-border terrorism, piracy and narco-trafficking and non-traditional challenges such as climate change, cyber security and human trafficking without the support and cooperation of regional and international partners.
The Maldives government also reiterated its gratitude for the assistance provided by India over the years, including during the 1988 mercenary attack on the country, the 2004 Asian tsunami, the 2015 Male water crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Describing the false allegations regarding ties with India as misguided and unsubstantiated, the Maldives government these were the views of a “small group of individuals with the objective of tarnishing the country’s long-standing cordial ties with India”. The government urged all parties to refrain from spreading false information that undermines relations with neighbours, and called on media outlets to commit to professional standards of journalism in reporting such information.