A Hindu group filed a police complaint against social media platform Twitter on Tuesday over a map that showed India’s Ladakh region as part of China, a year after the two countries fought a deadly battle there.
The map, which appeared on Twitters’ careers page, triggered outrage from Indian users of Twitter by depicting the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir as an independent country, while the Buddhist enclave of Ladakh, in the Himalayas near Tibet, was drawn as part of China.
After the #TwitterBan hashtag became a trending topic with almost 17,000 tweets, Twitter removed the map but did not make a public statement about the episode.
China is aggressively seeking to annex Ladakh by moving its troops ever deeper into Indian territory. A deadly hand-to-hand battle broke out between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan valley of eastern Ladakh in June 2020, a conflict fought with various forms of cudgel because both sides wanted to avoid gunfire.
Indian and Chinese forces are currently camped within 500 feet of each other in parts of Ladakh. Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh visited the region on Tuesday and warned China that Indian forces will fight back if attacked.
The complaint filed against Twitter by Hindu nationalist organization Bajrang Dal described the map as an offensive “act of treason” that could violate India’s information technology laws. Twitter’s top India executive, Manish Maheshwari, was named in the complaint.
Police summoned Maheshwari last week to face a complaint that he did not take action against a viral video that allegedly “insulted religious beliefs and caused public mischief” by purportedly showing Hindu men beating an elderly Muslim. Twitter has been accused of flaunting India’s Information Technology (IT) laws in various other ways.
Indian media noted this is not the first time Twitter has depicted Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh in controversial ways. Last year, Twitter’s geotagging feature was caught identifying Jammu and Kashmir as part of the People’s Republic of China. The social media site has displayed maps showing part of Ladakh as independent territory instead of Indian and has rendered Ladakh as part of China on several previous occasions.