“India Out” campaign in the Maldives
The opposition coalition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC), are both on the street as well as on social media with their “India Out” campaign.
What is the” India out” campaign” targeting for?
The aim of the “India out” campaign is to put the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party NDP and India in a bad light and to banish Indian military personnel based in Maldives.
When did the” India out” campaign” start?
In this regard, the opposition coalition organized a protest demonstration in Male in August 2020 started in the Maldives started as a protest, later spread widely through social media platforms with a related hashtag in January 2021 as “India out” campaign.
A separate protest was organized in front of the residence of the Indian High Commissioner, demanding the removal of Indian military personnel from the Maldives.
Since January this year, the opposition coalition has been organizing protest demonstrations every Friday.
Who is leading the “India out” campaign?
“India out” campaign is active on social media and is led by Ahmed Azan the co-founder of Diyari’s and its sister newspaper the Maldives Journal, that carry news and reports since December 2020. These two online media smear India and its government with false reports.
What are the allegations about the campaign?
The first argument is over the two Helicopters that were gifted by India to the Maldives, meant to be used for rescue operations and for airlifting patients between islands. The PPM is depicting that by gifting the two helicopters, India was crafting their military presence in the Maldives.
In line with the bilateral agreement between the two countries, Indian officers were sent to the Maldives to train their Defence Force, to operate these helicopters. The local vehemence has increased against the presence of Indian forces, asking their government to request India to take back these gifted helicopters and also call back the training officers. They allege the lack of transparency in agreements being signed between the earlier governments led by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and India, the ‘India Out’ campaign. It is argued that by entering into these agreements with India in the field of defence and security and infrastructure development, Maldives is sold off to India.
The second allegation is that the organisers have with them, several confidential agreements endorsed by India and the Maldives which are supposedly detrimental to the Maldives. This includes the agreement on the hydrographical survey. They allege that India would access the underwater information and sell this information externally.
The third issue is about the agreement on setting up of Coast Guard Dockyard at Atherothyla Falhu, funded by India.
Both India and the Maldivian government have responded have reacted by saying that these allegations are not based on any facts.
What are the demand of the ‘India Out’ campaign?
The campaign managers are demanding that the agreements be placed in the Parliament and approved. The government refuses to disclose the agreement saying that these are confidential.
What is India’s reaction?
The Indian High Commission in the Maldives has asked the Maldives government for greater security of its personnel, subsequent to the repeated reports appearing in social media molesting the diplomats of the Indian High Commission.
A letter from the Indian High Commission, citing the prelude of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations in 1961 sent to the Maldives government. The prelude had mentioned that these attacks are motivated, spiteful and even more personal. It further said that they could persuasively damage the proven bilateral relationship between India and the Maldives.