Apparently, the main charge by the Delhi Police Special Cell against Prabir Purkayastha and NewsClick is that of cartographic terrorism, or as the FIR states: “their conspiracy to peddle a narrative both globally and domestically that Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are disputed territories. Their attempts to tinker with the northern borders of India and to show Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as not parts of India in maps amount to an act intended towards undermining the unity and territorial integrity of India.”
This is shocking, especially if you take the logic of the FIR to its necessary end, meaning that anybody acknowledging the disputed nature of Indian borders, particularly when it comes to Kashmir and Arunachal, are terrorists.
Of course, the most prominent Indian acknowledging the disputed nature of our borders is Ajit Doval. As the Indian National Security Adviser, Doval led the discussions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with the Chinese. In other words, discussions on the disputed nature of borders of Kashmir, Arunachal as well as a few other states. No doubt the Special Cell is hot footing it to his office right now, handcuffs at the ready.
Doval, of course, is not the lone figure in the cabinet that would fall under the Special Cell’s definition of cartographic terrorism as a tinkering with maps. One of the first things the Bharatiya Janata Party did after coming to power was to finalise the border with Bangladesh – despite blocking it for years with much frothing at the mouth by the late, unlamented Arun Jaitley. Does this mean that Narendra Modi, the members of the erstwhile cabinet, and much of the Ministry of External Affairs, are all guilty of cartographic terrorism?
And the issue does not stop with Indians, since the Special Cell has said that all such tinkering is because of the propaganda arm of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Sadly, we now discover that Encyclopaedia Brittanica – which notes that Arunachal Pradesh is disputed territory – takes instructions from the CPC. Even worse, the CIA World Handbook displays a map of India with its borders on Kashmir at variance with Indian diktats. Who knew that the CIA was secretly an arm of China?
Would this make the US a state sponsor of cartographic terrorism? Is the invitation to US President Joe Biden to attend Republic Day a secret ploy by the Special Cell to serve him a notice for his arrest?
Who knows? The Delhi Police reports to Union home minister Amit Shah, and it is hard to guess what is happening in the devious mind of a man whose intellectual acumen rivals that of a fresh cowpat. Maybe he has decided to declare war on the world, or maybe he is just exploring the possibility of a career as a stand-up comedian once he is out of a job.
Omair Ahmad is an author and journalist.