The Maldives government has strongly condemned the opposition for their ‘disrespectful’ act during a demonstration on Thursday, where protesters were seen wearing face masks depicting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a statement on Friday, the government said: “Such dishonourable acts by the opposition regarding one of Maldives’ key bilateral partners and its leadership during Eid Al-Adha festivities, a time of peace joy and harmony, does not only provoke hatred but also promote hostility with the objective of tarnishing the country’s long-standing cordial ties with India.” The government also denounced the spread of false information through various platforms using the slogan “India Out”.

The strong bilateral relationship between Maldives and India is built on shared historical and cultural ties, as well as dynamic people-to-people contact, the statement said. “India has always been the Maldives’ closest ally and trusted neighbour, extending constant and consistent support to the people of Maldives on all fronts.”

The statement further said: “The long-standing ties between both countries have been elevated to new heights during the past five years, with the strong commitment of the leadership of both countries.” The government appreciates India’s “Neighbourhood First Policy” and Maldives reiterates to uphold its “India First” policy and remains committed to cementing the close ties it shares with India, it added.

The government concluded the statement urging all parties to act responsibly and refrain from engaging in disrespectful acts or spreading false information that undermines the country’s relations with its neighbours and the international community.