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The India Meteorological Department's Regional Meteorological Centre has started including cities under Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in its forecasts, a departure from its earlier format, officials said on May 7.
Following this a message which claims that Google Maps has removed the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan, and the Line of Actual Control between India and China started doing the rounds on social media.
According to the viral claims, a previous version of the map did show the disputed borders in grey, which has now been removed. The message further states that such a move by Google hints at the United States looking to get involved with India in fighting Pakistan and China.
The map accompanying the posts show Jammu and Kashmir as a whole, without a line separating PoK, suggesting that PoK is a part of India.
"Google Maps removed #LOC It's just a matter of time #POK will be ours. Give Thumbs Up if you all Agree!," reads the caption of one such post.
Google has removed LoC from India's map.
The claim is misleading.
Google has been following the practice of not depicting the LoC and LAC in its local Maps service for years now.
A keyword search led to a report by "The Washington Post" titled 'Google redraws the borders on maps depending on who's looking'.
According to the report, Google Maps in India displays the whole of J&K as fully under Indian control. But if the Indian map is viewed from any other country, it shows a dashed grey line separating PoK from J&K.
"The borders on Google's online maps there display Kashmir as fully under Indian control. Elsewhere, users see the region's snaking outlines as a dotted line, acknowledging the dispute.
Google's corporate mission is "to organize the world's information," but it also bends it to its will. From Argentina to the United Kingdom to Iran, the world's borders look different depending on where you're viewing them from," reads the report.
According to Google policies on maps, disputed boundaries are displayed as a dashed grey line. The places involved don't agree on a boundary.
On using a VPN to see the Indian map from outside India the dashed grey lines were seen.
In the Indian map viewed from outside India, a dashed grey line clearly depicts LoC, but if the same map is viewed from India, the LoC is not visible.
This is how the map looks when searched from within India.
This is how the map looks when searched from outside India.
Therefore, the disputed borders can still be seen, if the map is viewed from outside India.
Reportedly, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) started including Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzaffarabad, which are parts of PoK, under the Jammu and Kashmir meteorological sub-division since May 5.
According to the IMD Director General M. Mohapatra, they have been mentioning areas under PoK under its daily weather bulletin ever since Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated in two union territories August last year.
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