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No Threat to Indians in Maldives, Swamy Imagining Things: Maldivian Ambassador

Maldives is set to go to polls next month. While the Indian government has distanced itself from Swamy's statement, Swamy went further ahead and said that the invasion was necessary if Indians were to be protected.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:August 30, 2018, 3:56 PM IST
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No Threat to Indians in Maldives, Swamy Imagining Things: Maldivian Ambassador
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Maldives President Abdulla Yameen. (Reuters)
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Just hours after senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy called for an invasion of Maldives by India to “protect Indians” there, Maldives ambassador to India Ahmed Mohamed on Thursday said that the statement was nothing but a figment of his imagination.

Speaking exclusively to News18, Mohamed said that the expatriate Indian community in Maldives was highly valued by the Maldivian society and that all expat communities, including those from India, had been productively contributing to the Maldives economy.

“Maldives has always recognised the contribution and importance of the expat community to the island nation, and always ensure the safety of all individuals and businesses,” he said.

The Ambassador’s statement comes just three days after the Maldivian Foreign office summoned Indian envoy Akhilesh Mishra over Swamy's call to 'invade' the island country 'in case of rigging during elections'.

Maldives is set to go to polls next month. While the Indian government has distanced itself from Swamy's statement, Swamy went further ahead and said that the invasion was necessary if Indians were to be protected.

Maldives Independent had recently reported that Indians in the island nation were uncertain about their future there as the Maldivian government under President Yameen has “watered down the traditional India first policy”. It stated that both countries were denying visas to citizens of the other country.

Mohamed also reflected on history, stating that Maldives had been hosting Indians in the country since the 1850s and there has never been a single instance where their safety has been a matter of debate.

“From the Vorah merchants earlier, to the Indian businesses that have come up over the past 50 years such as electronic shops, banks, tourist resorts etc., the Maldives has always provided a conducive business environment for all. And contrary to the claims made by this particular individual, none of the expatriate community in the Maldives has ever been subject to reprisals or threats of any sort. The safety and security of all expatriates are of paramount importance to the Government of Maldives,” Ahmed told News18.

The strategically-located Indian Ocean island nation is an important neighbour for India and both countries were enhancing defence and security cooperation, particularly in the maritime sphere, in the last several years.

However, the ties came under strain after Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen declared Emergency in the country on February 5, following an order by the country's Supreme Court to release a group of Opposition leaders, who had been convicted in widely criticised trials. India had criticised the Yameen government for imposition of the Emergency and urged it to restore the credibility of the electoral process.

Additionally, India is yet to take back the helicopters it had given to Maldives, despite the Maldives giving a deadline of June 30 for the same. There were recent reports of Maldives keeping the choppers, but there has been no official word on it.

The two Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters were said to be a gift from India to Maldives in 2013. One of them was operated by the Indian Coast Guard and the other one by the Indian Navy. The Maldivian government under Abdulla Yameen made it clear earlier this year that it wanted India to take back the copters and the crew, which includes around 6 pilots, by the end of June.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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