The sovereignty of the nation stands challenged in the official Facebook page of the Kolkata Corporation which had put up a distorted map of Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh.
– Suman Bhattacharyya
Kashmiri separatists have been famous for their consistent demand for plebiscite. At one point in 1955, they had launched the All Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front, or Plebiscite Front as a political party in the state to decide if the state should remain part of India, join Pakistan or become independent. In what may be considered an extension of this habitual demand, West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee had, on 19 December 2019, dared the Central Government to go for a United Nations-monitored referendum on the amended Citizenship Act.
The analogy comes very naturally as the Kolkata Corporation in West Bengal has given away Kashmir to Pakistan. It has also excluded the part of Kashmir occupied by China from the map of India depicted in one of its recent uploads on the official Facebook page of the Kolkata Corporation. Most remarkably, this shameful incident has occurred as the country was celebrating its 71st Republic Day, a day India dedicates to the principles of unity and integrity of the nation.
The sovereignty of the nation thus stands challenged in the official Facebook page of the Kolkata Corporation; ironically, in an illustration with the Republic day wishes by the Mayor, Firhad Hakim, on behalf of the Kolkata Corporation.
It now does not appear entirely coincidental that, two years ago, in 2017, the maps distributed among students in the Class X level Madhyamik Pre-Board (Test) Examination in the paper of Geography, showed parts of Jammu and Kashmir in China. State BJP leaders from West Bengal had reported the matter to the Union Human Resource Development Minister, Prakash Javadekar.
A year before this, on the eve of the Assembly elections in West Bengal, the Dawn of Pakistan carried a report by Maleeha Ahmed Siddiqui, “Canvassing in mini Pakistan of Kolkata” (29 April 2016). Firhad Hakim told Siddiqui that she was in ‘mini Pakistan’, referring to Hakim’s constituency of the Kolkata Port. Banners had actually been put up to that effect in some parts of the constituency and the remark was repeatedly made during the election campaign in the Muslim-dominated localities.
Sources said that a private company has been entrusted with the responsibility of the Facebook page of the Kolkata Corporation. This Company, which updates and maintains the Facebook page of the Corporation, is headed by a journalist. He was, in 2000, in charge of a private news programme slot in DD Bangla. It was under his instructions, that the news slot had shown Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) as part of Pakistan. Twenty years ago, too, it had created a stir. The matter was raised in Parliament by veteran politician, Somnath Chatterjee, and had caused adequate embarrassment to Doordarshan.
In the wake of all these pieces of information that connect with a bigger story of the linkages between Trinamool Congress and Pakistan, it is perhaps worth recalling that Abdul Basit, High Commissioner of Pakistan in India during 2014-2017, visited Kolkata maximum number of times during his tenure. In March 2015, Basit had revealed Mamata Banerjee was ‘very popular’ in Pakistan. He had also invited her to visit Pakistan and start a student exchange programme between West Bengal and Pakistan. In the logical wake of things, therefore, it is not unusual for the TMC run Kolkata Corporation to exclude parts of Kashmir from the map of India on Republic day.