NEW DELHI: In what is likely to snowball into a diplomatic tussle between the two countries, it has now come to light that over 2000 Indian workers have either lost their jobs in the Maldives or were denied employment visas to work there in the last three months.
According to reports, the Immigration Department in the Maldives had recently denied employment visas to nearly 300 Indian workers, who were hired by a Singapore-based company working in the Island nation.
The company is engaged in the construction of a modernised airport in Male, the reports said.
The company, which earlier requested to bring machinery for the project from India, was later denied permission by the customs officials at the airport, forcing it to hire the same from China-backed local companies, the reports suggested.
The Government of India (GoI) is believed to be keeping a close eye on the unpleasant developments in the Maldives and has directed the External Affairs Ministry (MEA) and other agencies to collect data in this regard.
The agencies have been asked to prepare a breakup of those who have either lost jobs or denied entry in the Island nation. The government agencies have also been directed to prepare a list of Indians who have returned home after losing their jobs in the Maldives.
Just a few days ago, Male had asked the Indian authorities to take back two helicopters, which were gifted by India to the Maldivian government, by June end.
The Maldives government has also reportedly instructed its Immigration Department to put on hold fresh work permits for Indians. However, the Maldives Immigration Department has categorically refuted reports that it is denying work permits to Indian citizens.
Immigration Controller Mohamed Anwar said that Maldives Immigration officers do not discriminate when carrying out their duties and the authority will continue to grant Indian citizens work permits and visas in accordance with the country's regulations, according to media reports.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had last week taken up the issue of cancellation of work visas of Indian nationals in the Maldives and slammed the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over worsening of ties with the Maldives, the Congress chief said that the foreign policy of the country had become one “about photo ops” and “no agenda meetings”.
Claiming that the Maldives was cancelling work visa of Indian nationals, the Gandhi scion tweeted, “The Maldives, once one of our closest allies & beneficiary of massive aid, is cancelling Indian work visas & putting up “Not Hiring Indians” signs. This happens when foreign policy becomes about photo ops & "no agenda meetings" instead of strategic intent.”
Maldives, once one of our closest allies & beneficiary of massive aid, is cancelling Indian work visas & putting up “Not Hiring Indians” signs. This happens when foreign policy becomes about photo ops & "no agenda meetings" instead of strategic intent. https://t.co/rk1csSLTT1
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 14, 2018
President Abdulla Yameen declared an emergency on February 5, following an order by the Supreme Court to release a group of Opposition leaders who had been convicted in widely-criticised trials.
While India reacted strongly over the extension of emergency by a month, the island nation declined India's invitation to participate in the eight-day mega naval exercise - Milan - from March 6-13.