NEW DELHI (Staff Report) – Rejecting Pakistan’s objection to a controversial draft bill on the regulation of Indian maps of its territory, including maps of the disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir, an Indian minister said that it is the Modi government’s duty to ensure that “India’s geography” is projected properly.
“We don’t take cognizance of Pakistan’s objection to the draft bill,” he said.
He added: “We will take suggestions and views of citizens, experts and various stakeholders before the Bill’s finalization. But it is the duty of the government that India’s map is depicted properly,” Indian Union Minister Kiren Rijiju told reporters in Delhi.
Rijiju’s comments came after Pakistan expressed serious concerns at the United Nations over the draft bill, under which the disputed territory of Kahsmir must be depicted as part of India, and called upon the world body to stop passage of the law in India, as it is in “violation of international law”.
According to the Indian minister, the ‘Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016’ is still in the conceptual stage, and will be discussed by the Union Cabinet before being tabled in Parliament.
As per the draft legislation, the Indian government will be able to penalize individuals and organizations who depict Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory in Indian maps.
Wrong depiction of the map of India could land the violators in jail with a maximum term of seven years and impose a fine up to Rs 100 crore, according the version of the Bill currently under consideration by the Indian Cabinet.
Under the controversial bill, it will be mandatory to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India.