As a kid, I once came across a map of India in a leading foreign encyclopaedia. I noticed a crisscross line along what is the border of J&K with Pakistan. And a similar one along Arunachal Pradesh’s border with China. There was a text that read ‘Disputed Territory’.
It is common practice of foreign publications and websites including Google to depict J&K as a disputed territory.
Over time, some Indian publications too adopted a similar practice for whatever reasons. Many of them show a truncated J&K.
What is the wrong way?
Showing Jammu and Kashmir in the north and Arunachal Pradesh in the east as disputed territories is wrong. Both Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir in their entirety are integral parts of India.
A part of J&K was occupied by Pakistan in the 1947-48 first Indo-Pak war. It is rightfully India’s territory because of the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of J&K.
Pakistan gifted the northern part of what they occupied to China. On the other hand, China took control of the northern areas above Leh in Ladakh in the 1962 war with India.
What is the government doing?
Till now the government used Sec 69A of the IT Act under which it blocks anyone who shows a wrong map of India.
But the government is taking an even stricter measure now. It is mulling a law, which when passed, invites a jail term of seven years and a fine of Rs.100 crores on anyone who depicts India’s map in a wrong way anywhere and in any form.
The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill will define what one can see of India from the skies.
A provision in the draft bill reads:
“No person shall depict, disseminate, publish or distribute any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries through internet platforms or online services or in any electronic or physical form.”
“Whoever depicts, disseminates, publishes or distributes any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries shall be punished with a fine ranging from Rupees 10 lakh lac to Rupees 100 Crore and/or imprisonment for a period upto seven years.”
The bill is aimed at increasing India’s security. Once made a law, it would require anyone wanting to show a geospatial imagery of India through space of online platforms to take a license for the same.