The government has reportedly invoked Section 69A of the Information Technology Act that empowers the Centre to block public access to any information online

The Centre has written to Wikipedia asking it to remove a wrong map of India that shows Aksai Chin as part of China, according to several reports.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ajay Sawhney, issued the order to the online encyclopaedia on November 27, the Hindustan Times reported.

The government has invoked Section 69A of the Information Technology Act that empowers the Centre to block public access to any information online, according to PTI.

The matter came to light when a Twitter user pointed out that a map on a Wikipedia page about India-Bhutan ties had incorrectly depicted Indian territory. The user shared a screenshot of the map, which shows the region of Aksai Chin in China.
Both India and China claim the Aksai Chin plateau, part of the western sector of the frontier region. India considers it part of the Union Territory of Ladakh, which was carved out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year. China considers the plateau a part of its Xinjiang province and Tibet.

However, the map on the Wikipedia page shared by the user seemed to be an older version, given that the Survey of India had last year redrawn the map of India to depict the newly formed Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

An unidentified government official told the Hindustan Times that Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Secretary Sawhney has written to Wikipedia, saying the content posted on its website was intended to “defame” the country, and has the “potential to disturb the sovereignty and harmony of the nation”.

“The secretary further adds that it violates the territorial integrity of the country, and it is well within the power of the ministry under section 69A [of the IT Act] to order it to be taken down,” the official added. “The secretary has satisfied himself that the map has been wrongly depicted.”

Under section 69A, the grounds for issuance of blocking orders are “the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to the above”.

This is not the first time the government has taken up the misrepresentation of the map of India this year.

A controversy arose in October after Twitter showed Jammu and Kashmir as a part of China during a live broadcast by a journalist from Leh, Ladakh. On November 12, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued a notice to Twitter, asking for an explanation. The notice, sent to microblogging website’s global vice president, had asked why legal action should not be taken against the company and its representatives.

A week later, Joint Committee of Parliament on Data Protection Bill chief Meenakshi Lekhi said that the social media platform had apologised to the panel in writing for the wrong depiction of Indian territory. Lekhi said that Twitter had also promised to rectify the error by the end of the month.