ABU DHABI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday received the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) highest civilian honour, a move that has sparked outrage among rights activists over his government’s clampdown on the Muslim-majority Indian Held Kashmir (IHK).
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan awarded Modi the “Order of Zayed” medal during his visit to the capital, reinforcing ties between the two countries.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan personally put the gold medal round Modi’s neck.
The two leaders shook hands and spoke quietly. “You deserve it,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan told the Hindu nationalist leader at one point while posing for photos.
Modi had been announced as a recipient of the prize in April, days before winning re-election, in a tweet from Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“We have historical and comprehensive strategic ties with India, reinforced by the pivotal role of my dear friend, who gave these relations a big boost,” said a tweet from his account. Speaking on the occasion, Modi said Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked to end its “isolation” which allowed some of the youth to be “misguided, get radicalised and take to violence and terrorism”.
He said it was India’s “internal step” which was taken in a “completely democratic, open, transparent and constitutional” manner.
Modi said his government scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution to end the isolation that had kept Jammu and Kashmir underdeveloped “to serve the vested interests of a few.”
“This isolation also allowed some of the youth to be misguided, get radicalised and take to violence and terrorism,” he said.
He thanked the UAE’s leadership for backing India on the issue.
The UAE has backed India on its decision to revoke provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two union territories.
He said the UAE had shown “full understanding” of the strong steps India has taken against terrorism.
“We have exemplary cooperation to ensure mutual security,” he said.
Modi said strengthening ties with the UAE remained one of the most important foreign policy priorities of his government.
Talking about cooperation in all sectors between India and the UAE, he said the rapport shared between the leaders had helped the countries break new ground.