“A new leadership at the helm, the Ministry of External Affairs had restructured internal divisions to create a new one, focusing exclusively on the Indian Ocean region,” writes Devirupa Mitra.
“But even after the division has officially come into existence, its contours are yet to be fully mapped. It seems the ministry cannot quite decide whether to take on everything from piracy to bilateral ties in one fell swoop or it would be too much to chew.
The new Indian Ocean region division was planned as an offshoot of the earlier BSM department, which looked after Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Myanmar—all very crucial for India’s foreign policy
After the last joint secretary (BSM) Harshvardhan Shringla handed over his baton in the first week of January, the department was split down the middle with Sri Lanka and Maldives made part of a larger focus on Indian Ocean region.”
“There is alarm in India over Jehadi indoctrination of youngsters from the island nation of Maldives in Pakistan,” writes Devirupa Mitra for India’s Sunday Standard publication.
“Red flags have gone up over young Maldivians going for Islamic studies at seminaries in Pakistan and later turning up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Like a 31-year-old Maldivian national killed in a bomb explosion in Afghanistan in December 2013.
To curb the spread of Pakistan-induced radicalisation in the atoll—as it could pose a greater security challenge due to Maldives’ strategic position and freer travel guidelines—New Delhi is moving towards increasing contacts with moderate Indian Islamic institutions to educate youths from its Indian Ocean neighbour.For a year now, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been working on a proposal to increase engagement and contact between Islamic groups in Maldives and moderate Islamic educational institutions in India. All with the hope that more Maldivian youth would prefer to come to India in large numbers to pursue Islamic education than go to Pakistan.
The latest example of the phenomena which has raised concern came to the fore just last month, when the family of a Maldivian national, who had been studying in Pakistan for nearly six years, learned that he had died in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. A media report quoted a local politician as saying that when he called home, he would just “talk about Jihad and independence of Palestine”.
Sources made it clear that the government will try not to barge into this sensitive area in a heavy-handed manner, so it will only be a “facilitator to increase contacts with moderate Indian groups”.