Malé, Maldives – Vice President of Progressive Party of Maldives and MP for Naifaru constituency, Ahmed Shiyam has accused that the bill that seeks to criminalize the ‘India-Out’ campaign was drafted by Bharatiya Janata Party of India.
Debating on the ‘India-Out’ bill at the parliament floor, MP Shiyam told a bill is safeguarding the interest of India than that of Maldives and that a bill drafted by the Indian ruling political party, BJP cannot be presented to the Maldivian Parliament.
The India-Out campaign began in 2020, when protests led by the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC) erupted on the streets of the Maldivian capital, Malé, and in social media against the alleged presence of Indian military personnel on Maldivian soil.
The campaign has been intensified after former President Abdulla Yameen, who heads the PPM, took over the campaign after being freed from imprisonment on charges of corruption. Yameen is regarded by many in the Maldives and India as a pro-China leader.
According to the draft of the Bill aimed at the opposition campaign, its purpose is to prevent acts that could hurt foreign relations and the relations between India and the Maldives. A heavy fine and prison sentence have been proposed. The Bill also makes it a crime to carry out political activities against a particular country on the basis of allegations that the particular country is trying to infringe on the sovereignty of the Maldives.
Opposition MP’s have also argued that the bill will be more damaging to the current ruling party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) when they are on the other side of the table as the opposition given the history of MDP’s aggressive anti-China campaigns when President Yameen was in office.
The Maldivian government has taken action against India Out narratives on several occasions in the past, including the arrest of two individuals who plastered India Out graffiti on school walls, as well as via statements by the National Security Chair and the President of Maldives himself.