Apologies Issued to Indian Flag Disrespect Allegation: Maldives Minister Mariyam Shiuna Explains Social Media Controversy

The contentious post, now removed, featured a campaign poster of an opposition party with the Tricolour and Ashok Chakra replacing the party's logo

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Suspended Maldives Minister Mariyam Shiuna has issued an apology after a social media post, which allegedly disrespected the Indian national flag, ignited widespread outrage.

The contentious post, now removed, featured a campaign poster of an opposition party with the Tricolour and Ashok Chakra replacing the party’s logo, ahead of the parliamentary elections in the Maldives.

Belonging to Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu’s ruling party, Shiuna utilized her deleted social media post to advocate for her party’s support, stating, “The MDP is heading towards a big slip. The people of Maldives don’t want to fall and slip with them.”

The backlash from Indian social media users was swift, demanding stern action from President Muizzu against Shiuna. Subsequently, Shiuna deleted the post and issued an apology, acknowledging any confusion or offense caused. She emphasized that the resemblance to the Indian flag was entirely unintentional and expressed regret over any misunderstandings.

Highlighting the significance of the Maldives’ relationship with India, Shiuna reiterated her country’s deep respect for India.

This incident occurs amid a diplomatic rift between India and the Maldives, triggered by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep in January 2024. The visit prompted derogatory remarks from Maldivian officials, including Shiuna, towards India and PM Modi.

Despite tensions, India remains a vital economic partner for the Maldives, supplying essential commodities like rice and medicine. Recently, New Delhi renewed the quota for importing essential goods to Male for the upcoming year.

Nevertheless, there is a growing anti-India sentiment in the Maldives, particularly among advocates of an “India Out” stance, citing concerns over India’s military presence and influence. Concurrently, China is expanding its investment and influence in the Maldives, adding complexity to the situation for India.

The Maldives has requested the withdrawal of Indian military personnel stationed there, prompting discussions for a “mutually workable solution” between the two nations. The first batch of Indian personnel has already exited the Maldives, with complete withdrawal expected by May.

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