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Maldivian Teen-ager Dies, Opposition, Local Media Slam Muizzu’s anti-India Policy

Maldivian Teen-ager Dies, Opposition, Local Media Slam Muizzu’s anti-India Policy

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Jan 21: New Maldivian president Mohammed Muizzu’s anti-India policy may have taken the toll of a teen ager’s life. Some local media and the Maldives opposition leaders alleged that Muizzu’s refusal to give permission for the use of an Indian Dornier aircraft to airlift the boy to hospital in the island’s capital city of Male has cost the life of the 14-year old boy in the remote island of Wilmington in Gaaf Alif Villingili

Local media reported that the 14-year-old Maldivian boy battling a combination of a brain tumour and a stroke, died on Saturday amid allegations that President Muizzu denied permission for the use of an Indian Dornier aircraft that could have potentially saved his life.

“People shouldn’t have to pay with their lives to satisfy the President’s animosity towards India,” Maldives MP Meekail Naseem posted on X. “Only a few days ago, an Addu family lost their son at sea due to Muizzu’s refusal to deploy the Dornier. Today, a young boy from GA. Villigili has lost his life when the Dornier could have potentially saved him. How many lives must be sacrificed due to Muizzu’s pitiful arrogance?” wrote Mohamed Faisal, Former Deputy Ambassador to UAE from Maldives.

A Dornier aircraft, produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and provided by India, has so far been used extensively in the island nation for humanitarian purposes.

The teen, saw his family desperately seeking an air ambulance to airlift him from the remote island of Wilmington in Gaaf Alif Villingili to Male, where advanced medical care could have been provided to him and saved his life, local media reports said.

The tragedy began to unfold on Wednesday night when the child suffered a stroke, prompting his family to request an aerial transfer to the capital. However, their distress calls went unanswered until Thursday morning, when the country’s aviation authorities finally responded. The delay, reportedly lasting 16 crucial hours, sparked protests near the hospital in Gaaf Alif Villingili as the community voiced their anger over the delay.

The grief-stricken father, speaking to local media outlet Adhahu, lamented the lack of a prompt response, stating, “We called Island Aviation to get him to Male immediately after the stroke but they did not answer our calls. They answered the phone at 8:30 am on Thursday. The solution is to have an air ambulance for such cases.”

The subsequent transfer to Male, although accomplished, was overshadowed by the child’s rapidly deteriorating health. Upon arrival, the boy was immediately admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) but could not be saved.

Aasandha Company Limited, the company responsible for medical evacuations, issued a statement indicating that they had initiated the evacuation process promptly upon receiving the request. However, they cited a last-minute “technical glitch”, leading to the delay.

“It is with deep regret that we acknowledge the unfortunate passing of the patient involved in the emergency medical evacuation incident from GA Villingili on January 18, 2024. The entire management and staff of Aasandha Company extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them, seeking solace in Allah (SWT) for the deportee’s eternal rest in Jannatul Firdaus,” the company said in a statement.

Local Maldivian media reported protests outside the hospital where the child died. The incident comes against the backdrop of strained diplomatic relations between India and Maldives.

The diplomatic tension between India and the Maldives has spiked in recent months, particularly after President Mohamed Muizzu assumed office in November last year. The new president has indicated a shift in foreign policy, signalling a closer ties with China and departure from the previous “India first” approach.

Bilateral ties between the two countries took another hit when a tweet by some Maldivian junior ministers targeted the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India over promoting Lakshadweep as a tourist destination. The Maldivian ministers accused India of targeting the nation and claimed that India faced challenges in competing with Maldives in beach tourism.

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