As India-Maldives relation plummet, people-to-people contacts get hit
Their sizes might differ; so might their economic power. But yet, for tiny Maldives, matching its giant maritime neighbour India eyeball-to-eyeball hasn't been difficult.
According to a report published in the Hindu on Wednesday, June 13, the dip in the relations between the two South Asian countries has affected several Indians' whose work permits have reportedly been held by Maldives' Immigration Authority.
The diplomatic ties between the two nations were hit after India took a strong stand against the Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen's call for an emergency in February this year after the country's Supreme Court scrapped the conviction of several Opposition leaders, including former president Mohammed Nasheed, who is known to be pro-India.
A Supreme Court administrator was jailed during the emergency which was then extended despite India's protests.
That Yameen is in no mood to spare his country's democracy became known on Wednesday when former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed were found guilty after charges were levelled against them for not allowing their mobile phones to be investigated by the police.
According to observers, these are parts of Yameen's bigger scheme of winning the elections scheduled in September this year.
According to the Hindu report, Maldivian companies are clearly saying in their public advertisements that "Indians need not apply" since they could not be given work permits.
The report also said that despite the problem snowballing and more and more people are being hit, the Ministry of External Affairs has shown little interest on the issue and the Indian Embassy in the island-state even stating its helplessness citing it as the "prerogative of the Maldivian immigration to issue visa or not".
The Hindu report cited sources as saying India was trying to convince Maldives through diplomatic channels to resolve the matter fast but those at the receiving end have literally no other hope but to depend on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to show them light.
India's relations with the Maldives deteriorated in 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi ignored the country featuring in his travel itinerary over the treatment which was being meted out to Yameen's opponents.
Meanwhile, China, too, has increased its presence, in the region and the signing of a free trade between Beijing and Male has cemented their relations more and New Delhi has been left out in the cold in its own backyard.