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Tuesday, August 25, 1998 Published at 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK

World: South Asia

India bans CD-Rom for crossing the line

The Line of Control: A cartographer's nightmare

The Indian government has banned imports of a CD-Rom version of the world famous Encyclopaedia Britannica because it disagrees with the way the borders are depicted in a map of the disputed region of Kashmir.

Control of Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the two countries fought a war shortly after they became independent 51 years ago.

Both countries say the ceasefire line - known as the Line of Control - between their two armies in Kashmir should not be shown as an international border.

The Line of Control has often been the scene of fighting between the hundreds of thousands of troops stationed there by each side.

BBC Delhi Correspondent Daniel Lak says that while there have been small shifts in its position over the years, the overall line has remained largely the same for more than five decades.


He adds that journalists, graphic designers, map-makers and almost anyone else who ventures to depict the disputed region of Kashmir is familiar with Indian and Pakistani sensitivities over where the frontier should be drawn.

[ image: Encyclopaedia Britannica: a British institution]
Encyclopaedia Britannica: a British institution
Indian maps show the entire territory as part of Indian soil, in line with Delhi's insistence that Kashmir has been an integral part of the country since the Kashmiri Maharajah opted to join India, not Pakistan in 1947.

Pakistan insists that the old United Nations resolutions calling for ordinary Kashmiris to vote on their political future must be respected. Our correspondent says the assumption behind this is that the largely Muslim population of the disputed region would choose to be part of Pakistan.

All maps appearing in international publications in India must depict Kashmir as part of Indian territory or risk being prominently marked as being wrong.

This task is usually done by censors who stamp offending maps with the words: "External boundaries of India as depicted are neither correct nor authentic".

However, our correspondent says in the case of the CD-Rom version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, this has proved impossible - thus the ban.

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