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India’s inter-ministerial committee recommends taking Al Jazeera off air in map row

India’s inter-ministerial committee recommends taking Al Jazeera off air in map row

NEW DELHI: India, forever sullen about maps depicting its territorial claims against its liking, has found a quarry in Al Jazeera, reports said on Friday.

The Hindu said an inter-ministerial committee of the Information and Broadcasting ministry has found that Al Jazeera channel violated the programme code by showing wrong maps of India on repeated occasions and recommended that it be taken off air.

According to sources it quoted, the issue had come to the notice of the I&B ministry that on repeated occasions the channel had showed a wrong map of India in some of its broadcasts in 2013 and 2014, after which the matter was referred to the Surveyor General of India (SGI).

According to an order issued by the ministry on April 10, the SGI observed that the maps displayed by the TV channel were shown wrongly. The SGI said that a portion of Indian territory, often a reference to Kashmir, has not been shown as a part of Indian territory in some of the maps.

The territorial boundary of India is not shown with clarity and proper shape in another map. The channel also did not show Lakshadweep and Andaman Islands in some of the maps, it said.

The Ministry of External Affairs also pointed out a similar airing of a wrong map on July 2, 2014 by the channel. The I&B ministry had issued a show-cause notice to the channel on August 21 last year.

In their reply, Al Jazeera said that all maps displayed by them were generated by an internationally-known software used by Global News Providers.

The channel added that it took the Indian government’s concerns about maps very seriously and accordingly reviewed all its India and Pakistan maps to ensure compatibility with recent official UN map.

As per the order of the I&B ministry, the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) which was also attended by representatives of the MEA, after deliberations, held that the channel had clearly violated the provisions of the programme code and recommended to prohibit transmission or re-transmission of the channel throughout India for five days.

When contacted by The Hindu, a senior official confirmed that the IMC had recommended prohibition of transmission or re-transmission of the channel for five days and said further action would be taken as per norms.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2015

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