NEW DELHI: A Islamist group disrupted Yoga Day celebrations in Malé on Tuesday by storming Galolhu National Stadium – where a large group of people was practising yoga.

"Six people have been arrested and investigations are on to get to the root of the incident. There were only a few policemen present in the stadium who used pepper spray to dispel the protestors. The police were not expecting anything like this to happen,’’ said sources from Malé.

An investigation has been launched by the Maldivian Police to look into this incident.

"This is being treated as a matter of serious concern and those responsible will be swiftly brought before the law,’’ said President of Maldives, Ibrahim Mohammad Solih.

India’s Ambassador to Maldives, diplomats and senior officials from the Maldivian government alongside members of the general public were present in the stadium when it was stormed.

Yoga Day, celebrated annually on June 21, was hosted by the Youth Ministry of Maldives in collaboration with the Indian Cultural Centre.

The group which stormed the stadium was carrying flags containing verses from the Shahada. They threatened, attacked the participants and vandalized the property.

Religious organization ‘IlmuveringeGulhun’ comprising of religious scholars had written a letter to Islamic Ministry on Monday expressing their concerns regarding the celebration of International Yoga Day in the Maldives, as a practice closely associated with the Hindu religion.

The letter read that yoga was a threat to Islam and the Maldivian constitution in the name of exercise. It was also requested from the Ministry that they stop the event.

Some right-wing Islamists have been propagating against yoga and said it was haram and not permitted in Islam.

The Yoga Day event was initially supposed to be held at the Rasfannu area. However, Male’ City Council decided to shift the venue after complaints from the public.

Sources say that this is likely to be the handiwork of Maldives opposition party, PPM-PNC headed by former President Abdulla Yameen. Images of his party workers taking flags from his office before storming the stadium have gone viral on social media. Yameen has also been propagating the `India Out’ campaign.

Recently, in a bid to counter the India-Out campaign, the government of Maldives had launched a social media campaign supporting India called `Baakeenuvah.’