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Dubai signs deal with India for projects in occupied Kashmir

India's Minister of Railways and Commerce Piyush Goyal gestures as he speaks during the India-Brazil Business Forum meeting in New Delhi on January 27, 2020 [MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images]
India's Minister of Railways and Commerce Piyush Goyal gestures as he speaks during the India-Brazil Business Forum meeting in New Delhi on January 27, 2020 [MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images]

Dubai has signed a memorandum of understanding with the far-right Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi to build infrastructure in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Details of the MoU were announced by India on Monday, but the value of the accord was not provided.

The Indian government said that the agreement will see Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, building infrastructure including industrial parks, IT and multi-purpose towers, logistics centres, a medical college, and a specialist hospital.

Trade Minister Piyush Goyal described the agreement as a recognition of New Delhi's claim to the occupied territory. "This agreement sends a strong signal to the world that India is becoming a world power and that Jammu and Kashmir has a key role to play."

The statement from the Indian government noted that different entities from Dubai have shown keen interest in investing in Kashmir.

With a population that is 68 per cent Muslim, the disputed territory has long sought full independence from India. When India and Pakistan gained independence from British rule in 1947, the Kashmiris were promised a plebiscite on which country they wished to be part of. Instead, they found their state divided between the two rivals. There has since been a sustained struggle in the territory for independence from India, which has been met by a violent government crackdown.

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Kashmiris hopes were dashed further by the Modi-led BJP government in 2019, when it controversially revoked Article 370, stripping the state of Jammu and Kashmir of autonomy after seven decades. Since then, the government in New Delhi has enacted a new permanent residency law, allowing Indian citizens to obtain property and permanent residence rights in the state, which many Kashmiris regard as blatant settler-colonialism. A further 700,000 troops were also deployed into Kashmir and a lockdown was imposed.

"The Hindu nationalist government of India's prime minister Narendra Modi has begun an assault on the land, natural resources, culture, and people of the state, which comprises the Ladakh plateau, the lowlands of Jammu and the mountainous valley of Kashmir," said the Financial Times.

Dubai's signing of the MoU has been criticised, not least because the Modi government has been accused of fuelling anti-Muslim hatred and allowing ultra-nationalist Hindus, to carry out pogroms against India's 200 million Muslim citizens. "Efforts to implement the Israeli model in occupied Kashmir are still ongoing and Dubai has decided to side with them," said one critic on social media.

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