That India had included the two regions in its Jammu and Kashmir meteorological sub-division was first reported by The Indian Express on Thursday.
When asked, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Thursday said it had started mentioning the region in its national weather bulletin ever since Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh were made two separate Union territories last year after the abrogation of Article 370. However, it was not explicitly mentioned in the regional forecast for northwest India, which it has started doing now.
The northwest meteorological division consists of nine sub-divisions -- J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi-Chandigarh-Haryana, Punjab, east Uttar Pradesh, west Uttar Pradesh, east Rajasthan and west Rajasthan.
“We will share the weather forecast for whatever region that comes under the Indian territory. Earlier Ladakh was part of J & K state, but now the situation is different as it is a separate union territory, so when we mention Ladakh, we decided to mention Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzzafarabad as well," said M Mohaptra, Director General of Meteorology, India Meteorological Department (IMD), New Delhi.
The weather department also plans to set up a meteorological station in Ladakh soon.
Mohapatra also said since IMD acts as a specialized Regional Meteorological Centre for the South Asia region, it also has responsibility as an international agency.
“We provide cyclone forecast to all the member countries. 2016 onwards, we have also been providing severe weather forecast bulletin to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries which includes Pakistan as well," he added. "We have been issuing alerts for severe weather events as an international practice. It is just that we have now mentioned it explicitly in our regional forecast."
The change in name seems to convey a significant message. It comes within days of the Pakistan Supreme Court’s decision to allow Islamabad to hold elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. Last month, Pakistan’s top court had allowed the federal government’s application to set up a caretaker government and conduct provincial assembly elections. India had lodged a “strong protest" against the decision, saying Pakistani institutions had “no locus standi on territories illegally or forcibly occupied by it".
The Indian foreign ministry said that New Delhi 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.
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