India has advised the Solih administration to label the supporters and activists of “India Out”; the local movement that calls for the removal of Indian military personnel and assets from the Maldives and the cancellation of all secret military agreements signed between the Solih administration and India; as “drug traffickers”.
According to an official in the President’s Office who spoke with The Maldives Journal on the condition of anonymity, some time has passed since India had given the advice. The Solih administration and its supporters have since begun to implement India’s instructions.
“The instructions were given straight from India’s External Affairs Ministry. The highest levels of government have accepted the instructions and have begun implementing them”, said the official.
President Solih himself has used this tactic; speaking at a ceremony in Gaafaru, he had accused the local movements that oppose the Indian military presence of being organised by drug traffickers. Likewise, in an interview with the pro-BJP Wion news, Defence Minister Mariya Didi had also characterised the “India Out” movement as being organised by drug traffickers.
MDP parliamentarians as well as MDP activists have also begun to follow suit. However, nobody has been able to provide any proof for any of these claims.
In the early days of the “India Out” movement, the government had denied the presence of any Indian military personnel or assets in the Maldives. However, after mounting public pressure, the government had been forced to reveal their presence. The government has gone on to claim that the Indian military is present to maintain regional security by obstructing drug trafficking and other such crimes.
The opposition coalition have adopted the “India Out” movement and have launched a petition calling for the removal of Indian military personnel and the cancellation of the secret military agreements. Opposition leader, former President Abdullah Yameen has repeatedly called for the immediate exit of Indian troops from the country.