Abu Dhabi was one of the first countries to applaud India’s changes to Article 370, which provided guarantees of limited autonomy and demographic stability for India-administered Kashmir.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the UAE where he will be awarded the country’s highest civil honour - the Order of Zayed.
The move comes just weeks after the Indian government announced controversial changes to Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which formalised the conditions of accession for the majority-Muslim state of Kashmir.
According to the laws, non-Kashmiris were prohibited from settling in and buying property in the disputed territory, and a degree of autonomy was guaranteed for the region.
The changes to the law by the Hindu nationalist BJP government allow Indian settlements in the region and have the potential to shift the demographic make-up of the state.
Despite fierce rejection of the decision by Kashmiris, Abu Dhabi’s ambassador welcomed the move, describing it as a move that would “improve social justice”.
Rights groups have regularly condemned the conduct of Indian forces in Kashmir, with widespread allegations of torture, extrajudicial killings, and rape.
The bestowing of such a prestigious award on Modi by the UAE given that context has sparked outrage online.
“If this doesn't convince one of the sheer perversity of the UAE I don't know what will. And this at a time when Kashmir is being brutally muzzled and beaten,” wrote one social media user on Twitter.
Another implored: “Do you have no love for Indian Muslims ? Do you support extremism ? Please reconsider and support Kashmiris.”
If this doesn't convince one of the sheer perversity of the UAE I don't know what will. And this at a time when Kashmir is being brutally muzzled and beaten. https://t.co/46nWnZJKBs— arshadfilms (@arshadfilms) August 19, 2019
Another asked whether it was time to reconsider visiting the Emirates for tourism.
“Modi to be presented with the highest prize of the UAE, whilst Muslims are lynched in India and Kashmir is under military occupation. Think about this next time you spend your money in Dubai,” the Twitter user wrote.
Modi to be presented with the highest prize of the UAE, whilst Muslims are lynched in India and Kashmir is under military occupation. Think about this next time you spend your money in Dubai.https://t.co/5rMnNt0s6P— SajidSiddique (@SajidSiddiuqe) August 19, 2019
India and the UAE enjoy strong relations and the Gulf state is home to millions of expatriate workers, who work in every layer of the economy; from construction workers and manual labourers- to the service sector and private businesses.
Dearest UAE,— αυтυмη ρяιηcεss (@_autumnprincess) August 19, 2019
Even after what's happening in Kashmir,
Do you still want to award PM Modi Order of Zayed ?
Does he deserve it ?
Do you have no love for Indian Muslims ?
Do you support extremism ?
Please reconsider and support Kashmiris@UAEMissionToUN @HappyUAE