The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has said it will go ahead with its Goalkeepers Global Goals Award for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month despite protests, AP reported on Tuesday. The foundation also confirmed that two participants had pulled out of the award ceremony, though the reason is not clear.

Ever since the foundation decided to honour Modi for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, several public figures have opposed it, citing alleged human rights violations against minorities in India and the security clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir.

Urged for a statement on whether she pulled out of the event because of the Kashmir matter, actor Jameela Jamil tweeted that she would “not be commenting on any of this” as “when I publicly discuss world politics, especially when war is involved, I become the recipient of a multitude of death and rape threats”.

Riz Ahmed, another actor who pulled out of the ceremony, has not yet issued any statement. He has been vocal in speaking against Islamophobia.

On Monday, a group of people, some wearing “Free Kashmir” T-shirts, delivered petitions with 1 lakh signatures at the Gates Foundation’s headquarters in Seattle, AP reported. One of them told the news agency that the group was disappointed that the foundation would honour a person “who is clearly committing human rights violations in India”.

The Gates Foundation said it respects the petitioners’ views, but that Modi would receive the award for providing 500 million people in India safer sanitation. “We work on the specific issues where we believe we can have the greatest impact for the world’s poorest,” the foundation said.

The Goalkeepers Awards ceremony will be held in New York City on September 24 and September 25. The awards are presented in five categories – Progress, Changemaker, Campaign, Goalkeepers Voice and Global Goalkeeper – with a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Modi is expected to receive the award when he visits the United States next week. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be a speaker at the event.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.