Al Jazeera English has condemned a decision by the Indian government to take the channel off-air for five days over maps the channel aired of the disputed Kashmir region.
The ban, which took effect on Wednesday, concerned maps which on occasions during 2013 and 2014 did not mark Pakistan-controlled Kashmir as a separate territory.
We approach India like we do any other country - showing the world the positive and the negative, the humanity, and the diversity. This can be easily witnessed in the integrity and quality of the output that we have been allowed from India
Al Jazeera in India showed a blue screen on Wednesday with a sign saying “as instructed by the ministry of information and broadcasting, this channel will not be available”.
The maps, produced by external software, gave the same treatment to Indian-controlled Kashmir, though this was not subject to similar complaints.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but both claim the whole of the region and have twice gone to war over its control since partition in 1947.
Al Anstey, the Managing Director of Al Jazeera English, called the ban “disproportionate,” saying it “needlessly deprives Indian viewers of our global news and programmes”.
“This is the latest in a series on ongoing issues. Our journalists have not been granted visas for years now,” Anstey said.
“We approach India like we do any other country – showing the world the positive and the negative, the humanity, and the diversity.
“This can be easily witnessed in the integrity and quality of the output that we have been allowed from India.
“We have though been severely hampered for too long by constraints placed upon us when trying to tell Indian stories to the world.”
The order comes amid a simmering censorship row in India over a series of recent bans that have sparked accusations of a growing climate of intolerance under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
They include a ban on screening a BBC documentary on the fatal gang-rape of a student that sparked mass protests in Delhi.
New Delhi imposes tight restrictions on all printed maps, insisting they show all of Kashmir as being part of India.
The government in 2011 ordered The Economist magazine to cover up a map of disputed borders in Kashmir.
The news weekly placed white stickers over a diagram of the borders on 28,000 copies on sale in India.