In a subtle shift, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has started referring to its meteorological sub-division of Jammu and Kashmir as “Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzaffarabad”. Muzaffarabad is part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir while Gilgit-Baltistan is also under illegal Pakistani occupation.
The change in name started to get reflected from Tuesday in the daily forecast for northwest India, issued by IMD from New Delhi. The daily region-wise forecasts are for the entire sub-division, and not for any specific areas within.
Senior IMD officials confirmed that the change of name had taken place.
The IMD move not only reflects the changed status of Ladakh as a separate Union Territory but conveys a significant underlying message. It comes within days of the Pakistan Supreme Court’s decision to allow the federal government to hold elections in Gilgit-Baltistan.
On April 30, Pakistan’s top court had allowed the federal government’s application to set up a caretaker government and conduct provincial assembly elections. On Monday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had lodged a “strong protest” against the decision, saying Pakistani institutions had “no locus standi on territories illegally or forcibly occupied by it”.
The MEA said that India completely rejected such actions and the “continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu & Kashmir”. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the same day, rejecting India’s charges.
There are 36 meteorological sub-divisions in the country, broadly defined along state boundaries, but some large states have multiple sub-divisions while some smaller states are grouped together in the same sub-division.