Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s post during his recent visit to Lakshadweep sparked social media hate from Maldivians, escalating into an unexpected diplomatic rift between the two nations.
PM Modi’s beach and snorkelling posts in Lakshadweep, a southern Indian island chain, triggered a social media war. Despite no mention of Maldives or other tourist destinations, the scenic images offended Maldivian officials, leading to a conflict on social media with Indian users. The posts were perceived as a potential threat to Maldives’ tourism, where Indians play a significant role. Maldivian social media users, including influential figures, posted offensive, racist, xenophobic comments targeting Indians and Modi in response to the prime minister’s images.
Maldivian Ministers’ Derogatory Comments Targeting PM Modi Spark Controversy
Maldives’ Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment, Information, and Arts Mariyam Shiuna criticized Modi, calling him a “clown” and “puppet of Israel” in a now-deleted post. She disparaged India, comparing it to cow dung. Malsha Shareef, another deputy minister, echoed derogatory comments against Lakshadweep’s tourism campaign and India. Abdulla Mahzoom Majid, a member of Maldives’ ruling Progressive Party, shared a misattributed image, falsely claiming it as a Maldivian island resort and mocking Lakshadweep’s sunset.
Maldives Government Takes Action
In response to the social media war, the Maldives government swiftly distanced itself from the derogatory comments made by the three ministers. The government promptly suspended the ministers, emphasizing in a statement that the “opinions are personal” and do not reflect its views. It asserted the importance of exercising freedom of expression responsibly to maintain positive relationships with international partners and avoid spreading negativity and hatred.
India’s Reaction to Hate Remarks and Tourism Impact on Maldives
Media reports highlight that Maldives heavily relies on India for tourism, with over 209,000 Indian tourist trips in 2023, constituting 11% of its tourism market.
The derogatory remarks by Maldivian officials stirred anger among Indian holidaymakers. Some travelers shared trip cancellations on social media using #BoycottMaldives. Indian celebrities, including Bollywood actors and cricketers, urged fans to explore local destinations with #ChaloLakshadweep, leading to increased interest in vacations to the archipelago.
Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar condemned the officials’ remarks as “hateful and racist,” advocating for supporting Indian tourism. Popular travel sites like EaseMyTrip joined the cause, suspending Maldives flight bookings in solidarity with the nation. EaseMyTrip’s CEO Nishant Pitti stated, “In solidarity with our nation, @EaseMyTrip has suspended all Maldives flight bookings.”
The Confederation of All India Traders, one of India’s major trade bodies, has urged its members to suspend business with Maldives. Secretary-General Praveen Khandelwal stated,
“Until the Maldives tenders an apology or ensures remedial measures, the trading community in India will refrain from doing business with them.”
In response, Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer labeled the officials’ remarks as “unacceptable” in a post on X, emphasizing the archipelago’s commitment to “fostering a positive and constructive dialogue with our partners.”
Praveg Luxury Resorts Soar 43% on Modi’s Lakshadweep Photos and Social Media Trends
Praveg, renowned for its luxury tent resorts, experienced a remarkable 43% surge in just three trading sessions, reaching an all-time high of Rs 1,187.95 with a 17% intraday rally.
The stock’s upward momentum was initiated when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attention-grabbing photos from Lakshadweep, showcasing him enjoying pristine beaches and snorkelling, garnered widespread attention on Thursday. On Friday, Praveg shares continued to rally, witnessing a 4% increase. The momentum intensified on Monday, concluding with a substantial 17.5% gain, propelled by the trending hashtags #BoycottMaldives and #ChaloLakshadweep across social media platforms.
Easy Trip Planners and Indian Hotels Gain on Lakshadweep Focus
Easy Trip Planners’ shares traded approximately 6% higher, building on a 4.7% increase in the previous session. The travel agent led by suspending flight bookings to Maldives, encouraging Indians to explore local islands like Lakshadweep.
Meanwhile, Indian Hotels garnered attention as the Tata Group company announced plans to launch two Taj-branded resorts on Suheli and Kadmat islands in Lakshadweep by 2026. The large-cap stock saw a 2% uptick in trading.