India Redraws Maps To Swallow Disputed State

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Written By Mahmoud Sarvari

Tensions are heightening between India and Pakistan because of the way disputed territory is treated in a new bill dictating how maps and satellite images are labelled.

The Indian government wants to licence maps of the country under the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill.

The bill calls for print and online maps to treat the disputed state of Kashmir as part of India and to ignore any split with Pakistan and China.

The partition of Kashmir has fired conflict between India and Pakistan since Britain left the countries in 1947.

The state is bordered by Pakistan, India and China.

50 years of war and protests

Muslim Pakistan claims territorial rights because a minority of the population are Muslim. China claims a small area and India argues the entire state was ceded to the New Delhi government by the British.

The argument has lasted for 50 years and has seen two wars and numerous border skirmishes between India and Pakistan in which thousands of soldiers and civilians have died.

Protestors in Kashmir have campaigned for autonomy since 1947 without success.

With the new bill, India insists any print or internet publication available in the country shows Kashmir as wholly controlled by India.

The Pakistan government has raised the matter with the United Nations claiming the measure ignores a security council resolution.

£10m fine for ignoring new law

“The bill violates the authority of the United Nations and redraws the map as if the disputed territories are part of India, which they are not,” said a Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman.

Meanwhile the Indian foreign ministry argues Pakistan has no jurisdiction in Kashmir and the Indian government can rule how it wishes over a local matter.

“India condemns the way Pakistan repeatedly tries to draw international attention to a matter that could easily be addressed by talking to us,” said an Indian government spokesman.

If the new law is passed, Google, Apple and other online map suppliers will have to pay a licence fee for publishing satellite or other images of India.

The bill specifies wrongly labelling territory, including disputed national borders, as an offence

Failing to obey the law by importing foreign maps or publishing them online could result in fines of up to £10 million.