India on Tuesday reacted sharply to Pakistan’s move to seek UN intervention on a draft bill that imposes heavy fines on misrepresentation of Kashmir on the map of India.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup called the draft bill an “entirely internal legislative matter, since the whole of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.” He added that Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi on it.
THE MAP LAW
“The government firmly rejects Pakistan’s repeated and increasing attempts to impose on the international community matters that India has always been open to address bilaterally with Pakistan,” he said in response to a question on the press release from Pakistan Foreign Office on India’s Geospatial Information Regulation Bill.
The draft Bill suggests that anyone distributing a map the Indian government deems to be “wrong”, could be liable for a billion-rupee fine and jail time. Through passage of this Bill, the Indian government would be able to penalise individuals and organisations “who depict Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory as per the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions”.
SAME OLD STORY FROM PAKISTAN
Pakistan called the bill a “violation of UNSC resolutions” since “the official map of India has been depicting the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India which is factually incorrect and legally untenable.”
It sent a letter sent to the UN, calling it to uphold the Security Council resolutions, and urged India “to stop acts that are in violation of international law”.
Pakistan also urged the world body to hold and oversee an independent and impartial plebiscite on Jammu and Kashmir.
THE MAP CRACKDOWN
This is not the first time India has objected to the misrepresentation of Jammu and Kashmir in India maps.
Last year, Indian government took news channel Al Jazeera off air for nearly a week, saying it had repeatedly shown incorrect maps of Kashmir.
Companies that provide map services, like Google and Apple, too have been in trouble of showing a chunk of Kashmir as part of Pakistan. In 2014, the national surveying agency filed a complaint against Google for displaying varying maps of India on its different country webpages.
In 2011 it ordered The Economist magazine to cover up a map of the disputed borders in Kashmir. The news weekly placed white stickers over a diagram of the borders in 28,000 copies on sale in India.