'Those critical of India are threatened by the development being witnessed'

Maldives’ Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has stated that those critical of India-Maldives relations are threatened due to the numerous development projects being implemented with India’s assistance. The minister made the statement while speaking at a ceremony held to mark the completion of installation of streetlights in M. Kolhufushi, a project implemented with Indian assistance.

In his remarks, the minister said both countries share a close, ‘heart-to-heart’ relationship. Referring to the ‘India Out’ social media campaign currently gaining momentum on social media, the minister said it is those who cannot process the implementation of such projects with Indian assistance that are organizing such petitions.

‘The relationship between Maldives and India is special. The relations between both countries are that between the citizens of both countries. Citizens of both countries are connected at heart, and we acknowledge that. It is those that cannot accept the close relationship that are dejected by the developmental projects they are witnessing. To say in modern terms, they simply cannot ‘digest’ the fact. We will not standby [and let their words affect us],’ said the minister.

Lauding India, Shahid noted that the implementation of a cancer hospital in reclaimed suburb Hulhumale’ will kick off later this year, as well as the development of Hanimaadhoo Airport and other similar projects. India is a key benefactor of the projects.

Shahid also spoke regarding ongoing projects being implemented by the administration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The minister noted that the projects are ongoing even in the midst of a global pandemic, and that water and sewerage projects as well as streetscaping projects and development of harbours remain uninterupted in several islands across Maldives. Bigger projects are in the pipeline and will be implemented soon, he added.

The ‘India Out’ movement which calls for the expulsion of Indian military personnel present in the Maldives has gained strength over the past few weeks, with former president and Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed claiming that the movement is linked to ‘ISIS cells’. The opposition has since responded to the claims, stating that anyone advocating for the country’s independence, sovereignty and religion are ‘extremists’ in the eyes of Nasheed, and that the claims have no purpose or direction.