The Indian government on Wednesday banned the Al Jazeera network from broadcasting in the country for five days after it allegedly showed a map that the government says is incorrect. The map, which was shown on several occasions between 2013 and 2014, depicted the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which India claims complete control over, as divided between India, Pakistan and China -- a move the government reportedly denounced as “cartographic aggression.”
The viewers of Al Jazeera in the country were shown a message saying that the channel would not be available from April 22 through April 27, “as instructed by the ministry of information and broadcasting.” The decision was reportedly made on the recommendation of an inter-ministerial committee, which called for a “deterrent punishment for its (Al Jazeera’s) misdemeanor,” according to local media reports.
Jammu and Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan, and the two countries have fought several wars over it since 1947. Pakistan calls the regions under India’s control “India-occupied Kashmir,” while the regions under Pakistan’s control are referred to as “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” in India. Maps controlled by the Indian government, however, show the entire state as part of Indian territory. In addition, China also controls nearly 10 percent of the state in the northeast -- a region referred to as Aksai Chin.
The Indian government has, on several occasions, criticized the international media for its “incorrect” portrayal of the state’s boundaries. In 2011, the Economist was forced to place stickers over its map of the region that showed the state’s contested boundaries. The magazine later accused the government of censorship.
In a statement released Wednesday, Qatar-based Al Jazeera condemned the “disproportionate” ban.
“We approach India like we do any other country - showing the world the positive and the negative, the humanity, and the diversity,” Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English said, in the statement, adding that the move “needlessly deprives” Indian viewers of global news coverage.
“This is the latest in a series on ongoing issues. Our journalists have not been granted visas for years now … we have though been severely hampered for too long by constraints placed upon us when trying to tell Indian stories to the world,” he added.