India-Maldives: How online clash exploded in genuine world

INTRODUCTIONS:- An online dispute that persisted for three days escalated to real-world consequences, prompting the summoning of the Maldives envoy.


An online dispute that persisted for three days escalated to real-world consequences, prompting the summoning of the Maldives envoy on Monday.

Interestingly, this conflict originated from content unrelated to the Maldives, sparking a backlash from Indians when picked up by the island’s politicians.

India and the Maldives currently find themselves entangled in a diplomatic dispute.

Notably, this conflict unfolded primarily in the virtual realm of social media for almost three days before manifesting in physical actions.

On January 8, India summoned Maldivian High Commissioner Ibrahim Shaheeb, simultaneous to the Indian envoy in Male meeting with Maldivian officials.

This occurred three days after an online battle erupted, with Indians countering the abusive language of certain Maldivian politicians.

The dispute arose when islanders interpreted the promotion of Lakshadweep as an attempt to undermine their tourism industry.


Reports and social media suggestions hinted at deeper motives behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promotion of Lakshadweep.

The saga began with PM Modi sharing images from his January 4 visit, depicting moments of bliss while snorkeling on the pristine beaches.

He emphasized Lakshadweep as a timeless legacy and a testament to its people’s spirit.

This Lakshadweep visit was part of PM Modi’s South India tour, covering Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and culminating in Lakshadweep.

The controversy surrounding the promotion gained momentum, leading to diplomatic actions both online and on the ground.

The summoning of the Maldivian envoy and the subsequent interactions between Indian and Maldivian officials marked a significant turn in this cyber-imbroglio turned real-world dispute.


A picture is worth a thousand words.

People soon began deciphering the hidden messages in those images.

Social media users linked PM Modi’s revelation of “India’s best-kept secret” in Lakshadweep to the Maldives.


Speculation arose, suggesting a connection to the Maldivian government’s alignment with China.

India, strategically cautious about Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), has been monitoring the situation, especially with the recent political shift in the Maldives.

Despite the online chatter and reports hinting at a Maldivian link, New Delhi maintained silence on any direct connection.

Nevertheless, some Maldivian politicians joined the conversation and resorted to using abusive language against PM Modi and Indians at large.


Maldives Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment, Mariyam Shiuna, publicly insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, referring to him as a “clown” and a “puppet of Israel” on social media.

Despite facing significant backlash, she later removed the offensive posts.

Maldivian MP Zahid Rameez joined the anti-India campaign, asserting that India’s competition with the Maldives in tourism was “delusional.”

India-Maldives: How online clash exploded in genuine world 2 India-Maldives: How online clash exploded in genuine world

He went on to disparage India, claiming there was a “permanent smell in the rooms” and accused the country of imitating Sri Lanka to generate income, provoking strong reactions from Indians.

This triggered a massive online counter-offensive led by both celebrities and the general public.

The remarks by Maldivian ministers sparked widespread condemnation and calls for a boycott of the Maldives.

As tensions escalated, three Maldivian lawmakers were suspended, acknowledging the derogatory remarks against foreign leaders.

The cyber dispute, initially confined to online platforms, eventually led to diplomatic repercussions on the ground.

The Indian High Commissioner met Maldivian Foreign Ministry officials, and the Maldivian envoy was summoned to the South Block in New Delhi.

The incident highlighted the impact of online conflicts on real-world diplomatic relations, raising concerns about the potential fallout on the longstanding friendship between India and the Maldives.


India-Maldives: How online clash exploded in genuine world 3 India-Maldives: How online clash exploded in genuine world

By January 7, several Indian celebrities, including Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Kangana Ranaut, John Abraham, and Shraddha Kapoor, urged their followers to consider exploring Indian islands as alternatives to the Maldives.

Akshay Kumar tweeted, advocating for supporting Indian tourism, emphasizing India’s significant contribution to Maldives tourism.

Kangana Ranaut vehemently criticized Zahid Rameez’s remarks about a “permanent smell,” calling it racially insensitive and portraying a bias against Muslims

Despite both nations sharing a predominantly Muslim population in Lakshadweep.

Ranaut’s response highlighted the potential consequences of such statements and advocated for local tourism promotion in India.


Following the online backlash, ordinary Indians swiftly joined the movement, adopting hashtags like #ExploreIndianIslands and #BoycottMaldives to protest against what they perceived as “unprovoked hate” from Maldivians.

Social media witnessed a surge in reactions, with many expressing intentions to cancel their Maldives holiday plans in response to the controversial remarks.

By Sunday (January 7), Maldivian officials, including former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, condemned the anti-India sentiments expressed by their politicians on social media.

Solih explicitly criticized the use of “hateful language” against India, emphasizing the longstanding friendship between the two nations that should not be jeopardized by such callous remarks.

Recognizing the potential economic repercussions, Maldives grew concerned about the possibility of booking cancellations by Indian tourists.

Former Maldives minister Ahmed Mahloof highlighted the significant impact that an Indian boycott could have on the island nation’s economy.

The escalating tension between India and the Maldives, fueled by social media exchanges.

Raised fears of potential economic fallout and strained diplomatic ties.

Urging a shift in public sentiment and influencing travel decisions.

Till now 10,000+ stays have been cancelled, more than 3000 flights have been taken down.


India-Maldives: How online clash exploded in genuine world 4 India-Maldives: How online clash exploded in genuine world

Throughout this period, the entire conflict unfolded in the digital realm, escalating to a point where the Maldives deemed intervention necessary.

On January 7 Male took decisive action by suspending three Maldivian lawmakers in response to their derogatory remarks on social media platforms targeting foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals.

Alongside the suspensions, the Maldivian government reportedly provided education to those implicated in the controversy.

Transitioning from the virtual battleground to real-world diplomatic measures, the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, Munu Mahawar, engaged with Maldivian Foreign Ministry officials on Monday morning.

Mahawar’s visit, already scheduled, aimed to lodge a strong-worded protest against the offensive remarks.

Subsequently, the External Affairs Ministry summoned Maldivian envoy Ibrahim Shaheeb to the South Block in New Delhi.

The online confrontation precipitated a “boycott Maldives” movement, intensifying into a full-fledged diplomatic row.

Friends of India in the Maldives express hope for a limited fallout from the controversy, emphasizing a desire to safeguard the enduring friendship between the two nations.

Former President Solih, instrumental in elevating Indo-Maldivian relations, and PM Modi share the aspiration that the incident won’t detrimentally impact the longstanding ties.

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