The Maldives government and the Indian High Commission in Male’ have categorically denounced a letter circulating on social media platforms as “fake.” The letter in question is allegedly from the Indian External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, to his Maldivian counterpart, Abdulla Shahid, discussing the lease of land from the Maldives to India for the development of the MNDF Coastguard harbour at Uthuru Thilafalhu (UTF).

According to the allegedly leaked document, an additional US$550 million line of credit was proposed to be issued by the India Exim Bank to facilitate the supply of 11 more Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The UAVs would be operated by MNDF personnel in alignment with existing agreements. The document also mentions the leasing of 15 hectares in Hanimaadhoo, Haa Dhaalu Atoll, and Gan, Addu City, to India for 99 years “upon our sovereign domain,” renewable thereafter.

The Indian High Commission in Male’ issued a robust response on X (formerly Twitter). “We have seen images of a fake letter being circulated on social media, attributing them to External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and the Government of India. We unequivocally reject and condemn this malicious attempt to malign and disturb India-Maldives relations,” read the tweet.

In a separate post, the High Commission called upon the Maldivian authorities, specifically the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Maldives Media Council, to investigate the incident thoroughly and take suitable action to prevent the spread of such misinformation campaigns.

Similarly, the Maldivian Government released a statement condemning the act. “It has come to the Ministry’s attention that a fabricated letter in the name of a foreign government’s leader is circulating on social media and has been published in a newspaper. This letter is a forged letter, and its contents are fabricated,” said the statement. It also stressed that the media should act more responsibly, adhering to journalistic standards and ethics.

This episode underscores the sensitivity of diplomatic relationships as candidates contending for Saturday’s Presidential Elections use a plethora of anti-campaign tactics to sway influence on voters and allies.

Both governments have strongly denounced the act as a deliberate attempt to strain the relations between two nations that share strong strategic, economic, and cultural ties.