Saudi Arabia angers India with independent Kashmir banknote

31 Oct 2020

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A view of the new 20 Riyal note issued to mark Saudi Arabia's presidency of the G20 bloc of countries. — Photo courtesy: Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority
A view of the new 20 Riyal note issued to mark Saudi Arabia's presidency of the G20 bloc of countries. — Photo courtesy: Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority

India has complained to Saudi Arabia over a banknote that shows Kashmir as a separate country, in the latest protest over maps of the disputed region that have also targeted foreign media outlets and a social media giant.

The foreign ministry in New Delhi said it expressed “serious concern” over a new 20 Riyal note issued to mark Saudi Arabia's presidency of the powerful G20 bloc of countries, which includes India.

Kashmir is contested between India, Pakistan and China but the world map on the note's background shows it as a separate country, including the part of the territory occupied by India.

The ministry said on Thursday it had asked Saudi authorities to take “corrective steps”. Saudi authorities have yet to publicly respond.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still expected to address a virtual G20 summit in November.

India has become increasingly assertive in expressing its custodianship of the former princely state of Kashmir.

Tens of thousands have died in a three-decade insurgency in Indian-occupied Kashmir and since August 5, 2019, the Indian government has imposed a curfew and communications restrictions in the valley after stripping the region of its autonomy.

The Indian government this week warned social media giant Twitter over geo-tagging data that showed Ladakh region — a part of greater Kashmir occupied by New Delhi — as belonging to China.

Three years ago, India ushered in new laws that made erroneous depictions of the country's map a criminal act, punishable by a three-year prison sentence.

New Delhi banned broadcaster Al-Jazeera in 2015 for nearly a week after it published an Indian map that excluded Kashmir.

It has also regularly censored The Economist magazine for showing Kashmir as a disputed region.