India cannot stand media neutrality on Kashmir border disputes


In May 2011, the Indian customs forced The Economist to doctor 28,000 copies of its 21 May issue before permitting their distribution.

The problem was a cover story about the border dispute between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, one of the world’s most militarized regions. The report included a map showing the territory claimed by either side without taking a position on their territorial claims. The Indian authorities nonetheless insisted on a white sticker being placed over the map in each copy sold in India, depriving the country’s readers of a factual analysis of the border dispute.

L'article de The Economist censuré avec du sparadrap

Ever since the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Kashmir’s border have been both a cause and symptom of the tension between India and its Pakistani and Chinese neighbours. Ever since the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Kashmir’s border have been both a cause and symptom of the tension between India and its Pakistani and Chinese neighbours.

The Indian government often uses a 1961 law amending the criminal code’s national security provisions in order to censor maps showing Kashmir’s disputed border. It has usually settled for putting a “not recognized by India” sticker on the maps, but in recent years it has toughened its information control policies, going so far as to block the import and distribution of copies of the Financial Times and The Economist in December 2010 because they contained maps of Asia that were “not consistent” with the government’s position.

"We Fight Censorship" is reprinting the censored map with the kind permission of The Economist.

Carte des fronitères entre l'Inde et le Pakistan

Anticipating the censorship of the regional map in its 21 May 2011 issue, The Economist added a box entitled “Missing map?” at the end of report. The box said:

Sadly India censors maps that show the current effective border, insisting instead that only its full territorial claims be shown. It is more intolerant on this issue than either China or Pakistan. Indian readers will probably be deprived of the map on the second page of this special report. Unlike their government, we think our Indian readers can face political reality. Those who want to see an accurate depiction of the various territorial claims can do so using our interactive map at Economist.com/asianborders

Territorial disputes continue to be a highly sensitive subject for India’s government. When the Chinese foreign ministry issued new passports in November 2012 with a map of China on pages 8 and 46 showing territory claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines and India as Chinese, all of these countries protested but India was the only one to respond by producing new visas for Chinese citizens with a map of India that showed its version of the Sino-Indian border dispute.

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