India Orders The Economist to Place Stickers in 28,000 Magazines

An offending map of the disputed Kashmir borders is censored

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The most recent issue of The Economist has a cover story titled "The World's Most Dangerous Border" about the conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir province. Yet a map inside of the issue (we think the one at right, which is included with the online version of the article) depicting the various land claims over the Kashmir made by India, Pakistan and China, was summarily stickered over by Indian officials: according to the AFP, the magazine was ordered to manually place 28,000 stickers over the offending diagram.

The Economist condemned the censorship. "India is meant to be a democracy that approves of freedom of speech," John Micklethwait, the editor-in-chief of the British magazine told the AFP. "But they take a much more hostile attitude on this matter than either Pakistan or China."

Indian guidelines require that maps showing Kashmir depict its entirety as a part of the country, and they have come down in the past on foreign publications that break the rule. Customs agents stopped the importation and distribution of some copies of the Financial Times not too long ago, and as recently as December entire copies of The Economist were seized in some cities over a similar map.

One of the stories in the current issue anticipated the censorship: "Although the fighting has subsided in Kashmir, the issue remains hypersensitive: the Indian government censors publications, including The Economist, that print maps showing the current effective border."

Micklethwait told the AFP, "As a point of principle we are against changing our articles. So we mentioned the problem in a piece pointing out how touchy India is on this."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.