Govt letter describes J&K as ‘Indian Occupied Kashmir’

Wrong depiction of the map of India can land violators in jail for seven years and fines up to ₹100 crore. But amusingly an official communication mentions ‘Indian Occupied Kashmir’

Photo by Nitin Kanotra/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Nitin Kanotra/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Ashutosh Sharma

Coming close on the heels of reports that United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) listed Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as a separate country, a letter issued by the office of Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, mentions J&K as IOK, an abbreviation used by Pakistan to depict the state as ‘Indian Occupied Kashmir’.

Both India and Pakistan claim the whole territory of J&K, only controlling parts of it. Both the countries describe the part of Kashmir held by the other as “occupied.” India, however, claims Kashmir as its integral part.

The letter dated May 30 (see copy) was forwarded to all the Deputy Commissioners of all ten districts in Jammu province including Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Doda, Udhampur, Rajouri, Poonch, Reasi, Ramban and Kishtwar.

Supplied to National Herald
Supplied to National Herald

The letter relates to issues raised by Pakistan with the UN as it makes a mention of forthcoming human rights session in Geneva in June.

The second paragraph of the letter—which has been signed by Additional Commissioner, Jammu—reads: “Issuance of Permanent Resident Certificate: Another attempt to change demography of IOK (sic) is a move in which children of Hindu families, who do not belong to Jammu and Kashmir, are being issued Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC). Up till now, 500 PRCs have been issued to students in Kishtwar district out of proposed 5000 in all.”

The letter was written by the Office of Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, in response to a memo received from the office of Commissioner/Secretary to Government Department of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

Talking to National Herald over phone, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, MK Bhandari, said: “We have only reproduced a paragraph from a letter that we received from the state government. The state government got this letter from Union Home Ministry. We haven’t added any value to the letter which was forwarded to us by Commissioner Secretary, Department of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.”

As an aside, the annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), released last year, which was tabled in Parliament, referred to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) as Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) for the first time ever.

However, this wasn’t clear whether the letter forwarded to government of India by UN Human Rights Council, Geneva too had a paragraph reproduced from the letter written by Pakistan government. Generally, conflict neutral words are used by international bodies and media to describe both parts of Kashmir as Indian administered Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir.

Also, amid a series of controversies involving Twitter, Facebook and Google, the Ministry of Home Affairs released The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016 to crackdown on maps showing Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as part of Pakistan and China respectively.

Any wrong depiction of Indian map, according to the draft of the Bill, could land the violators in jail with a maximum term of seven years and a fine up to ₹100 crore.

The Divisional Commissioner’s office in Jammu, however, had sought details from all Deputy Commissioners in this matter by the end of last month.

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