Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the Maldives on June 8 and 9 and also Sri Lanka on June 9, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) announced on Monday, adding that the visits will “demonstrate the priority India attaches to its ‘Neighbourhood-First Policy’ and the SAGAR Doctrine”.
It may be recalled that the ‘SAGAR’ doctrine refers to “Security And Growth for All in the Region”. Furthermore, these two southern maritime neighbours of India are seen as vital to its strategic interests particularly in view of increased Chinese assertiveness in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). On Monday, meanwhile, new external affairs minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar also held a meeting with top officials of his ministry.
In a statement, the MEA said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a state visit to the Republic of Maldives on 08-09 June 2019 at the invitation of H.E. Mr. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of the Republic of Maldives. This will be the first overseas visit of Prime Minister Modi after his re-election.
The visit is reflective of the new momentum in high-level exchanges between India and Maldives. Prime Minister Modi’s forthcoming visit will provide an important occasion to review the recent developments in bilateral relations and exchange views on issues of mutual interest with the objective of further strengthening the special relationship between the two countries.”
The statement also read, “Prime Minister Modi will also visit Sri Lanka on 09 June 2019 at the invitation of H.E. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.”
A Muslim man was killed in Sri Lanka on Monday, police said after imposing a nationwide curfew to contain a violent new backlash against Easter suicide bombings.
The 45-year-old man died shortly after admission to a hospital in Puttalam district during anti-Muslim rioting which began Sunday in the area, a police official told AFP.
“Mobs had attacked him with sharp weapons at his carpentry workshop,” the official said. “This is the first death from the riots.” His death was reported after authorities ordered the entire country placed under a night curfew and police were ordered to use maximum force to deal with troublemakers.
Police will take stern action against rioters and constables have been issued with orders to use maximum force, Police Chief Chandana Wickramaratne warned in a televised address after rampaging mobs set fire to Muslim-owned shops and vehicles.
Homes and mosques were also vandalised by large groups of people armed with sticks and blunt weapons, police said.
The unrest was concentrated in three districts north of the capital, but a night curfew was imposed across the country to prevent the spread of violence, police said.
The latest rioting came three weeks after a string of suicide bomb attacks against three Christian churches and three luxury hotels, leaving 258 people dead and nearly 500 wounded.
Poverty has been widely considered as the root cause of violence allowing religious fundamentalists to brainwash the poor to commit gruesome attacks. However, the recent terror attacks in Sri Lanka may change this narrative completely. Eight of the nine suicide bombers involved in the horrific attacks on the Easter morning have now been identified. Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim, aged 33 and Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, aged 31, the two sons of respected Sri Lankan millionaire businessman Mohammed Yusuf Ibrahim were amongst those eight suicide bombers. The Deputy Defence Minister of Sri Lanka has said that amongst the bombers was a woman too.
It is interesting that a prominent Sri Lankan family’s involvement has come into discussion even after Islamic State has claimed the responsibility of these attacks. It is pertinent to note that the Islamic State has, in the past, claimed the responsibility of attacks it was not involved in.
The Ibrahim family has been interrogated by the authorities after the attacks and it has been reported that three policemen have lost their lives while searching the house of Yusuf Ibrahim which was booby trapped with explosives. The authorities are hoping to get some leads from Ibrahim’s youngest fugitive son on training camps and jihadist network.
India had warned Sri Lanka of another possible attack after interrogating an Islamic State sympathiser Zahran Hashmi. Hashmi’s organisation named Tamil Nadu Tauhid Jamaat has been quite vocal about issues faced by Muslims in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Hashmi, along with Ibrahim brothers, was actively involved in recruiting people for Islamic State from Sri Lanka.
The death toll of the blasts has risen to 359 as confirmed by the official sources amongst which 11 are Indians.