Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives D M Mulay has accused local news outlet Sun Online of attempting to “mischievously” spread misinformation, after it published an article alleging that India had begun to deport Maldivian nationals.
On Tuesday (March 19), Sun published an article claiming that the Indian Bureau of Immigration had been informing Maldivians – who are residing in India without a specific reason – to leave the country.
The article entitled ‘More difficulties for Maldivians living in India’ has attracted criticism from both the Indian High Commission and the Maldives Foreign Ministry, who have both denied any knowledge of such practices being undertaken.
Speaking to Minivan News, High Commissioner Mulay claimed that the Sun article was an attempt to spread incorrect information between both India and the Maldives.
“We have not received any such reports from our country regarding this matter. The article is a mischievous attempt to spread misinformation between the two countries,” said Mulay.
The article reported that Mohamed Ashraf, a Maldivian who has been living in India with his family since 2008, was suddenly told by Indian immigration to leave the country within seven days.
When Ashraf had asked for the reason for his sudden deportation, Indian immigration allegedly told him they were not required to give any reason to foreigners living in the country, the article states.
The article further claimed that a Registration Officer had told Ashraf that “more Maldivians will be issued such orders in the future”.
A media official from the Maldives Foreign Ministry said that it had not received any information regarding the issue, stating that “these things are all rumours”.
Responding to the criticism, Editor of Sun and Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) President Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir stated that the news outlet did not speculate or provide misinformation through its reports.
“The information we published is from the interview we got from the guy [Ashraf]. It is a practice of freedom of expression,” he said.
“We have received a lot of complaints from people living in India and they say they are having difficulties with visas. We are carrying people’s opinions.”
While Sun was able to obtain a copy of the document ordering Ashraf to leave the country, the article does not state whether any relevant government officials had been contacted for comment.
An official from within the Indian High Commission further denied that the Indian government was “clamping down” on Maldivians living in the country.
“There is no clamp down, except on those who flagrantly violate visa conditions. For example, people running guest houses on dependent visas.
In regard to the published article, the official asked: “Since when do we start believing in all media news? Most ‘news’ is published without checking with relevant parties.
“Incidentally, I still do not see any progress on any of India’s concerns like the seizure of passports [in the Maldives],” he added.