Of the nearly 30,000 Indians working in the Maldives, Pinarayi Vijayan pointed out that a majority were from Kerala.

Kerala CM writes to Sushma Swaraj over Maldives not renewing work permits of Indians
news External Affairs Sunday, June 17, 2018 - 12:40

Earlier this week, Suhasini Haidar for the The Hindu reported that a 21-year-old man from Kerala, who was offered a high-paying job in the Maldives, was staring at unemployment as his work permit was being held up by the island nation.

Several advertisements from companies also had a disclaimer that “Indians need not apply” since they will not be given work permits. An estimated 2,000 applications for work permits stand pending, the report stated.

Days after it came to light that India-Maldives ties had soured after the former opposed the emergency ordered by Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took up the matter with the central government on Saturday.

In a letter sent to Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Kerala CM said that of the nearly 30,000 Indians working in the Maldives, a majority were from Kerala. These people were employed in the health, education and tourism sectors in the Maldives, the CM said, seeking the intervention of the MEA in resolving the crisis.

With the two countries maintaining friendly ties for decades together, Maldives not issuing new work permits to Indians and not renewing permits was of grave concern, the Kerala CM pointed out.

Adding that renewing work permits in the Maldives generally took hardly a week, CM Pinarayi Vijayan urged Sushma Swaraj to consider it a national issue and intervene immediately.

MEA to intervene

AICC President Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter earlier this week to comment on the development.

“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,” he said.

Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor too said that relations with the Maldives was “poorly handled”.

“A real pity that relations with Maldives have been so poorly handled that Indians are suffering,” he tweeted. 

According to a report in The Hindu, the MEA has assured that it would intervene in the matter, adding that it is treating the issue with “utmost importance”.

“The Ministry of External Affairs has taken up the matter strongly at various levels and has urged the Maldivian government to abide by the terms of the bilateral visa regime in place since 1979,” the report quoted an unnamed source as saying. 

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