India has lifted the visa restrictions on Maldivians, offering free 90-day on-arrival visa to Maldivian nationals travelling to the neighbouring country for medical treatment, the Indian high commission in Maldives announced Sunday.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark India’s Republic Day, the Indian high commissioner to the Maldives Rajeev Shahare said the offer was made following negotiations during President Abdulla Yameen’s recent visit to India. The restriction on 60-days’ gap between two visits was also lifted, he added.”This is a very very privileged aspect of visa, we have not granted to any other country. Other nationals are required to have a cooling-off period of two months. Maldivians will not have, because this is a very privileged, special relationship that we have between India and Maldives,” he said.
India had an uneasy relationship with Male after the toppling of former President Mohamed Nasheed who once took refuge at the Indian high commission in Male to avoid arrest.The previous government’s decision in 2012 to prematurely terminate the contract with India’s GMR Group and expropriate the airport had sparked a diplomatic row with India which had threatened the long-standing relations between the two countries.
Shortly after the termination of the GMR contract, India had tightened the free on arrival visa granted to Maldivians by warning that Maldivians travelling to India for purposes other than tourism on a tourist visa could face deportation.
Long queues outside the high commission had been a frequent sight ever since the Indian government tightened its visa regulations. But India was swift to congratulate Yameen after he won the presidential runoff in November and said it looks forward to cooperating with him and his government.
Jan 27, 2014
India lifts visa restrictions on Maldivians
Posted on February 6, 2014