India’s Kashmir Map Issue
By Sajjad Shaukat
In the earlier this month, the draft bill which was up for public consultation was published on the Indian home ministry’s website. It suggests that anyone distributing a map the Indian government deems to be wrong and could be liable for a billion-rupee fine and jail time. Through passage of this bill, the Indian government would be able to penalize individuals and organizations who depict Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory as per the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
Pakistan foreign ministry on May 17 has expressed serious concerns to the UNSC) and UN secretary general through letters with regard to the Indian government’s efforts to introduce a controversial ‘Geospatial Information Regulation Bill’ in the Indian Parliament which aims to restrict geographical depictions of India and disputed Kashmir to those that are government-approved. The letters elaborated that in violation of UNSC resolutions, the official map of India has been depicting the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India which is factually incorrect and legally untenable. The letters also called upon the UN to uphold the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir and urge India to stop such acts which are in violation of international law.
In this respect, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman pointed out “We have urged the international community and the United Nations to fulfill their commitment with the people of Jammu and Kashmir by holding an independent and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices.”
It is notable that during the partition of the Sub-continent in 1947, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, in connivance with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor-General Lord Mountbatten, had decided to join India, quite contrary to the wishes of the majority of Kashmiris.
When a contention arose between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute in1948, India took the issue to the United Nations Security Council and offered to hold a plebiscite in the held Kashmir under UN supervision. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India.
While passing through various phases, the struggle of Kashmiris which has become an interaction between Indian state terrorism led by the Indian security forces and war of liberation by the freedom fighters, keeps on going unabated.
Despite the employment of various forms of state terrorism by the Indian security forces, war of liberation intensified since 1989.
A report on human rights violations by Indian Army and its paramilitary forces in Indian-held Kashmir disclosed that since 1989, there have been deaths of 93,274 innocent Kashmiris, 6,969 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests and 105,861 destructions of houses. Indian brutal security forces have orphaned over 107, 351 children, widowed 22,728 women and gang raped 9,920 women.
Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian-controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, security forces have extraordinary powers to shoot suspected persons.”
Particularly in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the Indian occupied Kashmir. In this context, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves. Notably, foreign sources and human rights organizations including Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) have pointed out that unnamed graves include thousands of innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters including those who were tortured to death.
It is mentionable that leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has taken various steps to strengthen Indian illegal control on Kashmir. The Modi regime hurriedly decided to forcibly annex disputed territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, uncovering its intentions to wrap up the article 370 of the Indian constitution which ensures a special status to J&K. Therefore, United Nations Military Observer Group India and Pakistan in New Delhi was asked to vacate official accommodation. In fact, BJP government‘s long term strategy is to affect demographic changes in the Indian occupied Kashmir by composition of the region—predominately with Hindu population.
During one year of People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-BJP alliance government in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, BJP in aid of RSS has furthered its agenda of complete integration of Kashmir into India. Though legal experts of India and IOK High Court have clarified the permanent status of Article 370 of Indian Constitution, BJP’s agenda of trifurcations is still on table. In this context, BJP is in hot pursuit of Mission 44+in IOK Assembly elections 2020. However, short of that, BJP and RSS are busy in changing religious identity of the State. For example, special concessions were given to expand the horizon of Amarnath Yatra to project that Hindus have greater stakes in IOK than Muslims.
Special efforts are being made for demographic engineering in the State. For instance, West Pakistan Refugees have been recruited in the Indian Armed Forces from IOK quota. Allocation of lands for separate cities for repatriating Hindu Pundits and allocation of INR 2 million for rehabilitation of each Pundit family in the Valley are aimed at creating Hindu constituencies in a thorough Muslim region of the Valley through delimitations.
Kashmiri Hurriyat leadership has been suppressed by the PDP-BJP government by not allowing them to organize rallies for demanding freedom and expressing love for Pakistan. Their leaders were detained in Police Stations or kept under house arrests during all important events.
Detention of Masarat Alam, even after acceptance of bail by IOK High Court, exhibits coercive mechanics of Indian forces/police in the State.
Indian malicious intent is evident from the blame game against Pakistan for every internal security issue, merely to avoid serious dialogue on bilateral issues as well as the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir. Pakistan is committed to the just and democratic solution of the Kashmir issue, which is plebiscite, however, India has never been serious in resolution of the dispute, neither through bilateral dialogue nor involving third party mediation nor by abiding by the UN resolutions.
Nevertheless, India’s Kashmir map issue shows that New Delhi is quite non-serious in settling the Kashmir dispute with Islamabad. Hence, the US-led major powers must take action on Indian negative measures, as Kashmir remains the nuclear flashpoint in South Asia.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
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.
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.
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 atEconomist.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.