New Delhi, June 22
The Maldives’ Cabinet has set up a seven-member committee to probe the disruption of the Yoga Day celebrations in Male on Tuesday. Consisting of the Attorney General and six Ministers, it also includes Ahmed Zahir, Minister of Islamic Affairs, against the backdrop of protesters displaying placards proclaiming that yoga was against the tenets of Islam.
A mob in the Maldivian capital of Male on Tuesday, some carrying flags of the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), stormed the yoga event. As protestors raced aggressively towards the yoga enthusiasts, there were fears for the safety of the Indian High Commissioner and other diplomats present.
Anti-India protests in the Maldives have acquired a sinisterly violent edge ever since the two countries moved closer on the maritime security and political fronts. The Union Cabinet last year approved the opening of a consulate on Addu Island and Maldives is an active member of the India-led South Asian maritime security initiative.
A preliminary probe by the Maldives police showed some of the items used by rioters came from the opposition PPM office. Sources here said social media handles attacking the Yoga Day celebrations in Maldives had a back history of supporting China.
The pro-China Abdullah Yameen-led PPM controlled the island for five years but its slide began after he lost the Presidential polls in 2018 followed by a heavier loss for his party in the subsequent Parliamentary elections. The political rivalry further sharpened after Yameen was sentenced to five years in prison but the case was overturned by the Supreme Court of Maldives late last year.
India is the top tourist market for Maldives and accounts for over 20 per cent of its tourist inflow and bailed out Maldives during the Covid crises with $ 3.5 billion in lines of credit besides vaccines, medicines and even rations.
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