As the Indian-Maldives ties are taking a dip, Indians applying for work in the island nation are bearing the brunt of it, with an estimated 2,000 Indians having pending applications for work permits, the Hindu reported.
There appears to be a “strict directive” from the Maldivian government against giving work permits to Indians, as well as against facilitating other requests from Indian companies in the country since February, the report cited officials as saying on the condition of anonymity.
The Maldives Immigration Authority held up thousands of work permits to Indians since earlier this year as India took a strong stand against the emergency declared by Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen in February. Around 29,000 Indians live and work in the Maldives, according to the report.
The effect is being seen in job advertisements as well. Public job advertisements from companies are clearly stating that Indians “need not apply,” as work permits are not being issued to them, the report added.
International hotel chain, Marriott, also put out on advertisement on June 13 that said: “Please note that work permits are not currently being issued to Indian Nationals.”
Alexander Blair, the general manager of the St Regis in Vommuli, advertised for the post of a chef at an Indian speciality restaurant on the online jobs network LinkedIn, saying: “Unfortunately, with the current situation that Work Permits are not being granted to Indian Nationals, we are ideally searching for an Indian who is holding another passport or is the spouse of a Maldivian.”
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has reportedly declined to take up the issue while the Indian embassy in Maldives has told job-seekers approaching it that it cannot help them.
The Maldivian embassy in Delhi refused to comment on the issue when contacted by the Hindu reporter.
Relations between India and Maldives have been on downward spiral since 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his visit to the island over the treatment of Opposition leaders by President Yameen. The declaration of emergency and the arrest of Opposition leaders led India to voice its concerns over the issue this February, leading to further straining of ties.
Immigration Department spokesman Hassan Khaleel, however, told the Maldives’ Independent newspaper in March that reports of visa delays for Indians were “completely false.”