Anti-India elements creeping into govt agencies? Top aviation body calls PoK 'Azad Kashmir'

Considering the nature of India-Pakistan relations, such a reference by the AAIB may not be viewed as simply a mistake

Anti-India elements creeping into govt agencies? Top aviation body calls PoK 'Azad Kashmir'
Evidence of the 'blunder' made by the AAIB. Image courtesy: Twitter/@flyingamit

The matter of Jammu and Kashmir is very sensitive. Therefore, any kind of communication that takes place regarding the region needs to be done with extra care. One can’t afford to make any loose references about the region and must follow the attributions used by the government of India at all levels. But what could be done when the government’s own website makes a goof-up that turns out to be really embarrassing for the Indian authorities?

It has been found that the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) had carried a map, which identified Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The AAIB made this blunder in one of its investigation reports, which referred to the western area of Kashmir as AJK. 

The report carried a probe into a "serious incident" that took place in July 2019. It was mentioned that a Vistara flight from Srinagar to Jammu was diverted due to poor weather and landed safely in the Amritsar airport, but with only 460 kg of fuel left. The report carried a map marking the area west of Line of Control (LOC) as 'Azad Jammu and Kashmir'. 

The map had no flight path despite calling itself the “Route Followed by Aircraft”. It is believed that the aircraft wouldn’t have crossed the LOC to fly over this region, which is Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. 

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However, considering the nature and history of relations between India and Pakistan, referring to PoK as Azad Kashmir, that too by a government agency, may not be seen simply as a blunder, but an entirely anti-India act, and possibly intentional too.  

The PoK area of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been unlawfully and illegitimately occupied by Pakistan for decades and has been a breeding ground for terrorists sponsored by Pakistan. 

Pakistan administers this part as a nominally self-governing entity and calls it Azad Kashmir, or 'Free Kashmir' -- essentially 'free from Indian control'. India, on the contrary, refuses to recognise this and regards it as an integral part of India that is being occupied by Pakistan. 

There have been countless acts of terrorism perpetrated by Pakistan in the name of Kashmir's azadi (independence). Wars have been fought between the two countries, and the Kashmir dispute has continued to mar the relations between the two countries for over 70 years since their independence from British rule. 

As recently as 2019, in response to the Pulwama terror attack, Indian fighter jets crossed the LOC and launched an airstrike in Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in which more than 300 terrorists were reported to have been killed. The offensive had brought the two nuclear-armed countries on the verge of war. 

Earlier, in 2016, India had launched a surgical strike deep inside PoK in which numerous terrorist camps were demolished and terrorists were killed.   

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This so-called blunder by the AAIB begs the question: have anti-India elements started to infiltrate the government bodies of the country too?   

Understandably, Captain Amit Singh, an air safety expert called for accountability to be fixed and those responsible for this offence being made to pay for it. Captain Amit Singh, an air safety expert, had tweeted the controversial picture late on Saturday (January 9) night. “Heads should roll for this blunder, don’t you agree?” his tweet read. 

The investigation report has been pulled down since a section of media sought a statement from the civil aviation ministry (MoCA) in this regard.

Later, a revised version of the report was uploaded after making the necessary corrections in naming the area. 

“There was an error and it has been rectified,” a ministry spokesperson told the reporters.

“The quality of investigation reports are so poor that no stakeholder can derive any benefit from them,” Captain Singh said. He added, “It’s a shoddy investigation. I am sure they themselves haven’t read the report. That’s why I have highlighted the political boundaries and names.”

Captain Singh also raised questions on the revision made by AAIB. He said that the new report published doesn't mention any revision number/content revised. Also, can a final report be revised unless reinvestigated? asked Captain Singh.