The diplomatic row between India and the Maldives has intensified following the summoning of Ibrahim Shaheeb, the Maldivian High Commissioner to India, by India’s Ministry of External Affairs. This action comes in response to a series of derogatory social media posts by three Deputy Ministers of the Maldives, targeting India and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Summoning an envoy is a diplomatic procedure typically employed to express a country’s strong objection and to underscore the seriousness of the issue. Shaheeb was required to appear before the Ministry in New Delhi at 9:00 a.m. local time on Monday.

In what appeared to be a reciprocal move, the Maldivian government was reported to have summoned the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, Munu Mahawar, to appear at their foreign ministry at 12 p.m. on Monday. 

The Indian High Commission clarified that this was a pre-scheduled meeting with Dr Ali Naseer Mohamed, Ambassador at Large at the Foreign Ministry, to discuss bilateral issues. 

The summoning of Maldivian High Commissioner Shaheeb by India follows the recent controversy involving derogatory remarks made by senior Maldivian government officials, including Deputy Minister Mariyam Shiuna and others. These comments have sparked a diplomatic and political uproar, prompting both nations to take reciprocal diplomatic actions.

The Maldivian government, which had earlier issued a statement acknowledging the inappropriate social media remarks but stating they did not reflect government policy, has yet to respond to this latest development.

Three Deputy Ministers at the Ministry of Youth, Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna, and Abdulla Mahzoom Maajid, were suspended on Sunday following the public uproar over their derogatory comments towards the Indian PM and India.

The current government of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC) has a history of summoning diplomats. In 2016, then Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, Akhilesh Mishra, was summoned over PPM Parliamentary Group Leader Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik being denied entry into India.

In the lead-up to the 2018 presidential elections, High Commissioner Akhilesh Mishra was again summoned over Indian MP Subramanian Swamy’s tweet suggesting that “India should invade Maldives if rigging of the presidential election takes place.”