Indian Envoy summoned after New Delhi bars entry of Maldivian MP to Chennai

maldives NIhan
Maldives MP Nihan

New Delhi, June 7 :  Relations between Maldives and India have turned worse after a top aide of Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen and head of the parliamentary group of the Progressive Party of Maldives, Ahmed Nihan, was barred from entering India. The Maldives foreign ministry has raised the issue with New Delhi and on Wednesday sought an explanation from Indian High Commissioner Akhilesh Mishra about “Why India denied entry to its senior ruling party MPs into the country” on Monday.

On Tuesday, Ahmed Nihan, an MP from the Progressive Party of Maldives, held a press conference in Male and termed India’s actions ‘bullying’. He claimed that he was denied entry into India due to his political affiliations.

Speaking to reporters, Nihan said that he had travelled to Chennai for medical reasons but was refused entry on Monday after enquiries about his diplomatic passport at the airport. He flew back to the Maldives four hours later by a Sri Lankan Airlines flight.

“This is bullying,” said Nihan, believed to a senior aide to President Abdulla Yameen. “If this is the implementation of a policy by neighbouring India, it does not make any sense.” Terming the incident “unfortunate”, Maldives’ ambassador to India Ahmed Mohamed said Nihan regularly visited Chennai for health check-ups and the denial of entry was “unexpected”. President Yameen’s sister and brother-in-law, who were accompanying Nihan, were allowed entry into Chennai.

“‘Bully’ India silent on refusing entry to Maldives ruling party MP,” read a headline in the Maldives Independent on Wednesday, amid reports of ‘minor protests’ outside the Indian High Commission in Male.

The relationship between India and Maldives nosedived after President Yameen expressed a clear preference for China and declared an emergency on February 5 following an order by the country’s Supreme Court to release a group of opposition leaders, who had been convicted in widely criticised trials.

The decision by Maldives is seen as an apparent snub to New Delhi which was critical of the Abdulla Yameen government for imposing emergency in the island nation earlier this year.

Maldives had declined an invitation by India to send a ministerial-level delegation to the Defence Expo, a biennial exhibition of weapons and military hardware, which was held from April 11-14 in Thiruvidandai, south Chennai.

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