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“They Help Our People”: Maldives Ex-Minister On Presence Of Indian Troops

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January 09, 2024

Former Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi defended the deployment of Indian troops in her nation despite tense bilateral relations, stating that they are there for humanitarian reasons.

Her statement coincides with President Mohamed Muizzu of the Maldives’ push for the removal of Indian troops from their islands, especially in light of the recent controversy surrounding the use of disparaging remarks by their ministers regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India.

“Muizzu and his people presume that thousands of (Indian) troops are present in the Maldives that the sovereignty of this country is at stake…We’ve maintained we have 89 (Indian troops) people here for humanitarian roles. They have been helping our people for medical evacuations and search and rescue operations. They have always come here to help us,” she told an NDTV panel on Monday.

She argued that the Maldives should make their own decisions and not base them on what is best for anyone else but Maldivians, but she also advocated for stronger defense ties with India.

Since the beginning of time, the Maldives and India have maintained a close relationship based on their shared defense cooperation. Geographically speaking, we are the closest to India. Our borders are the same. Therefore, both countries have a shared concern for security. Thus, forming a partnership is simpler,” she remarked.

When asked if China plans to increase its military presence in the Maldives, the representative expressed her hope that her nation will remain impartial while strengthening its defense relations with India.

Since Mohamed Muizzu, who is primarily viewed as a pro-China leader, was elected president of the Maldives, relations between India and the country have been strained. Muizzu advocated for the evacuation of Indian troops from the Maldives on the grounds of national security after being elected to the top position.

The Maldives, which attract thousands of tourists each year with its stunning beaches, is currently embroiled in a new controversy following the use of disparaging language by two of its ministers toward Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India.

The recent diplomatic spat set off the worldwide #BoycottMaldives movement, in which a number of celebrities urged Indians to consider Lakshadweep as a more viable tourist destination rather than the Maldives. So many Indians even canceled their trips to the Maldives.

The controversy started when a few ministers from the Maldives made derogatory comments about India and Prime Minister Modi for sharing pictures and videos from his trip to Lakshadweep, where he was spotted lounging on the immaculate beach and snorkelling.