An Indian magazine vendor arranges a censored issue of the Economist magazine at a road-side stall in New Delhi on May 24, 2011. The Economist magazine has accused India of hostile censorship after officials insisted that a map in the latest edition be covered up as it showed disputed borders in Kashmir. – Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: The Economist magazine has accused India of hostile censorship after officials insisted that a map in the latest edition be covered up as it showed disputed borders in Kashmir.

Customs officers ordered that 28,000 copies of the newsweekly must have stickers placed over a diagram showing how control of Kashmir is split between India, Pakistan and China.

India and Pakistan claim the whole of the Himalayan region. New Delhi imposes tight restrictions on all printed maps, insisting they show all of Kashmir as being part of India.

“India is meant to be a democracy that approves of freedom of speech,” John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist, said. “But they take a much more hostile attitude on this matter than either Pakistan or China.”

He added: “This is an act of censorship, and many wise and sensible voices in India see it has no point.”

The map is used as an illustration for a front-page story on “The world's most dangerous border” between India and Pakistan.

The Economist began distributing the edition on Tuesday with a blank-and-white sticker covering the small map.

“We are just told 'it is the law of India',” Micklethwait said. “The map is impartial, accurate and fair. We show everyone's claims, and it is also realistic as it shows where the unofficial border actually falls.”

The magazine has clashed in the past with Indian authorities.

In December an entire issue was pulped on the censors' orders over a map of the region, and its publishers predicted the May 21 edition was likely to hit trouble.—AFP

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