In­dia pulls the plug on Al Jazeera af­ter row over map of dis­puted Kash­mir area

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

In­dia’s gov­ern­ment took Al Jazeera news chan­nel off the air on Wed­nes­day for five days af­ter of­fi­cials in­sisted it had re­peat­edly shown wrong maps of dis­puted Kash­mir.

Al Jazeera in In­dia showed a blue screen on Wed­nes­day with a sign say­ing “as in­structed by the min­istry of in­for­ma­tion and broad­cast­ing, this chan­nel will not be avail­able.”

An of­fi­cial said the or­der was made ear­lier this month over the maps that showed parts of the Hi­malayan Kash­mir re­gion in arch ri­val Pak­istan and China, an ex­tremely sen­si­tive is­sue in In­dia.

“The ban has been im­posed for five days and it was done on in­struc­tions of an in­ter­min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee, who took cog­ni­sance of an in­cor­rect map of In­dia in which the chan­nel showed parts of Kash­mir in Pak­istan and China,” the of­fi­cial told AFP on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The or­der comes amid a sim­mer­ing cen­sor­ship row in In­dia over a se­ries of re­cent bans that have sparked ac­cu­sa­tions of a grow­ing cli­mate of in­tol­er­ance un­der Hindu na­tion­al­ist Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi.

They in­clude a ban on screen­ing a BBC doc­u­men­tary on the fa­tal gang-rape of a stu­dent that sparked mass protests in Delhi.

Al Jazeera In­dia bureau chief An­mol Sax­ena said the chan­nel has “made rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the min­istry” and was hope­ful of hav­ing the or­der re­voked.

Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia re­ports, Al Jazeera breached In­dia’s broad­cast­ing code over the maps shown in 2014 and 2013 which on some oc­ca­sions also did not in­clude the Lak­shad­weep and An­daman is­lands.

Kash­mir is di­vided be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan but both claim the whole of the re­gion and have gone to war twice over its con­trol since par­ti­tion in 1947.

New Delhi im­poses tight re­stric­tions on all printed maps, in­sist­ing they show all of Kash­mir as be­ing part of In­dia.

The gov­ern­ment in 2011 or­dered The Econ­o­mist mag­a­zine cover up a map of dis­puted bor­ders in Kash­mir. The news weekly placed white stick­ers over a di­a­gram of the bor­ders on 28,000 copies on sale in In­dia.

“Even­tu­ally In­dia might re­al­ize how id­i­otic this looks,” the mag­a­zine’s South Asia bureau chief Adam Roberts tweeted over the or­der against Al Jazeera.

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