India rejects Pakistan concerns over Kashmir map

In this photograph taken on May 24, 2011, an Indian resident reads a censored issue of the Economist magazine at a road-side stall in New Delhi. Anyone distributing a map the Indian government deems to be "wrong" could be liable for a billion-rupee ($15 million) fine and jail time under a new draft bill. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan in its entirety but has been divided since 1948

India has rejected Pakistan's concerns over a proposed law to ban maps or satellite images of the country unless they are approved by the government.

Pakistan has criticised the "incorrect" depiction of the disputed region of Kashmir in Indian maps.

The maps show all of Kashmir as being part of India, and not divided between Pakistan, India and China.

Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan in its entirety but has been divided since 1948.

It has been the cause of two wars between them.

In a letter to the UN, Pakistan has raised "serious concern" over the "controversial" bill.

"In violation of United Nations Security Council (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," a statement issued by Pakistan's foreign ministry said.

"Through the passage of this bill, the Indian government would penalise the individuals and organisations who depict Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory as per the UNSC resolutions."

India's foreign ministry spokesperson said the proposed bill "is an entirely internal legislative matter of India, since the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India".

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption The bill would require a licence for all existing photographs and maps.

Vikas Swarup said "Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi in the matter".

"The government firmly rejects Pakistan's repeated and increasing attempts to impose the international community matters that India has always been open to address bilaterally with Pakistan," he said.

The proposed Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, which would affect digital maps from Google, Apple, and Uber, is facing stiff opposition from campaign groups in India.

It also bans "wrong" information, including disputed international borders.

The government said the rules would not create barriers to business if the bill became law.

The bill bans all types of geospatial information, maps, raw data or photographs, acquired by any means, including satellite photography. Offenders could be fined up to 1bn rupees (£10.4m).

It also requires anyone who has already gathered such information to apply for a licence to keep it.

Critics say the definition of geospatial data is so wide it could include printed maps, world atlases, or depictions of the country in international magazines imported to India.

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