India Bans Al Jazeera for Five Days Following Kashmir Map Row
The news network was ordered off-air for showing an “incorrect” map of Kashmir.
The Indian government has ordered that 24-hour news channel Al Jazeera go off-air for five days starting Wednesday for showing an incorrect map of Kashmir.
“The ban has been imposed for five days and it was done on instructions of an inter-ministerial committee, who took cognizance of an incorrect map of India in which the channel showed parts of Kashmir in Pakistan and China,” news reports quoted a government official telling AFP on the condition of anonymity.
The Qatar-headquartered channel said in a statement that the government's decision concerns maps shown in 2013 and 2014 that didn’t mark Pakistan-controlled Kashmir as a separate territory. Maps used and authorized by the Indian government show this part—as well as territory controlled by China—as falling within India.
Following India's independence from British rule in 1947, the former princely state of Kashmir has been claimed by both India and Pakistan in its entirety, but has effectively been divided since 1948. The long-running border dispute has seen the neighboring countries going to war on a number of occasions. Indian-administered Kashmir has also been battling an insurgency for many years.
Maps approved by the Indian government still show the entirety of the state as lying within Indian control — while other maps seek to show the de facto border between areas administered by India and Pakistan.
Al Jazeera added that since being informed by Indian authorities of the problem with its maps, the channel has ensured that all borders of Kashmir are “marked with dotted lines and shaded differently.”
“This ban is a disproportionate response to an issue that we fixed promptly after it was pointed out,” Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this is the latest in a series on ongoing issues. Our journalists have not been granted visas for years now. We approach India like we do any other country — showing the world the positive and the negative, the humanity, and the diversity... We have though been severely hampered for too long by constraints placed upon us when trying to tell Indian stories to the world."
Anstey also said that the network was seeking talks with Arun Jaitley, India's information and broadcasting minister, "that will help us move forward in a constructive way.”
Al Jazeera is currently airing a blue screen with a message stating “as instructed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, this channel will not be available.” Al Jazeera launched its English news channel here in 2011, with its India bureau based in the capital, New Delhi.
This is not the first time that a foreign media outlet has been restrained by India over maps of Kashmir. In 2011, The Economist magazine was ordered to place white stickers on the border areas of a map of Kashmir in the magazine's 28,000 copies available for sale in India.