A mob on Tuesday morning disrupted the Yoga Day celebrations at the Maldives National Football Stadium in the capital Male, The Edition reported.
Videos shared on social media showed a crowd armed with sticks and flags charging toward those practising yoga.
The mob told the participants to leave the stadium and also threatened them, according to The Edition. The police used tear gas shells to control the situation.
In recent months, an “India Out” campaign, spearheaded by former President Abdulla Yameen, has gained prominence in the Maldives. The campaign alleges that the Maldives “is a puppet of New Delhi” and allows India to have a military presence on the island.
In April, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had issued a decree to ban protests against India under the campaign saying they pose a threat to national security.
The Maldives was also part of the many Muslim-majority countries that have condemned derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad by Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal. Following the outrage, the BJP had suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal.
Tuesday’s event was organised by the Indian High Commission in the Maldives in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment of Maldives and the United Nations in the Maldives, PTI reported. The event was attended by more than 150 persons, including diplomats and government officials.
After the brief disruption, the yoga event was finished successfully.
The decision to hold the event was met with protest by some members of the public, according to The Edition. The city council of Male claimed it had refused the sports ministry’s request to hold the event following complaints from the public.
Meanwhile, Solih said that an investigation has been ordered into the incident.
“This is being treated as a matter of serious concern and those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law,” Solih tweeted.
In a statement, the police said that six persons have been taken into custody, reported PTI. The police said they were treating the incident as a serious matter.
“Perpetrators had sought to incite fear by forcefully entering, destroying property and attempting to assault participants of the event,” a statement by the police said.
The government of Maldives also criticised the “violent acts perpetrated by a group of individuals” and said undermining the security of the diplomatic staff will not be tolerated.
Those who have evidence or information about the incident have been asked to submit it to a web portal set up for case leads.
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