New Delhi: International news channel Al Jazeera was today forced to go off air in India for five days as the government penalised it for repeatedly showing wrong maps of the country.
Al Jazeera today only showed a blank screen with a message saying that "as instructed by the ministry of Information and Broadcasting, this channel will not be available from 00.01 hours on 22nd April till 00.01 hours on 27th April 2015."
Earlier in an order, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had said that it had come to its notice that Al Jazeera had shown a wrong map of India in some of its broadcasts in 2013 and 2014, after which the matter was referred to Surveyor General of India (SGI).
The SGI had observed that in some of the maps displayed by Al Jazeera, "a portion of Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir (i.e. PoK and Aksai Chin) has not been shown as a part of Indian territory." The channel also did not show Lakshadweep and Andaman Islands in some of the maps, the SGI said.
The SGI also said that the maps were not in accordance with the Survey of India copyright map and is also against the National Map policy, 2005 and map restriction policy issued by Ministry of Defence from time to time. The Ministry of External Affairs also pointed out similar airing of a wrong map by the channel.
In their reply to a Show Cause Notice, Al Jazeera said that all maps that are displayed by them are generated by an internationally known software used by Global News Providers.
The channel also added that it takes Indian government's concerns about maps very seriously and accordingly reviews all its India and Pakistan maps to ensure compatibility with recent official UN map.
As per the order of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Inter Ministerial Committee which was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of External Affairs, 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.