New Delhi: Amid India and Pakistan’s meteorological departments posting updates about the weather in Gilgit-Baltistan, a new Twitter account has cropped up for the region that is caught in a territorial dispute between both countries.
Created in May 2020, the unverified account is called the ‘Official Twitter Account of Gilgit-Baltistan, Ladakh (U.T.), India’, and has the handle @GB_Ladakh_India. The link in the Twitter bio directs the user to the official site for the Ladakh administration.
The account so far has only three tweets.
The first tweet is from 9 May and reads: “#NewIndia On #Maharanapratap Jayanti…”.
This comment accompanied a retweet of a DD News weather report from 8 May, which shows the weather for the disputed Gilgit region.
The PIB Fact-Check Twitter account, an arm of the Press Information Bureau that counters misinformation on government-related news on the social media platform, clarified that this account isn’t an official account of the administration.
The PIB handle tweeted Wednesday saying there are only two official Twitter accounts of Ladakh, and tagged them.
Claim: A twitter handle @GB_Ladakh_India claims to be official account of “Gilgit-Baltistan, Ladakh, UT, India”#PIBFactCheck: It is a #Fake handle. Union Territory of Ladakh has only 2 official Twitter handles ie @DIPR_Leh & @InformationDep4.
Follow them for official updates pic.twitter.com/sKzK6xvpIC
— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) May 13, 2020
Tensions have been fraught between India and Pakistan, which have not held any bilateral talks since the terror attack on the Uri army camp in September 2016. India, which blamed Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism, pulled out of the 19th SAARC summit Pakistan was scheduled to host in Islamabad in November that year. The summit is yet to be held.
On 4 May, ThePrint reported that India had warned Pakistan not to upset the status quo of Gilgit-Baltistan by attempting to bring the region under its control.
India had said the entire union territories of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are “an integral part of India by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession”.
Three days later, on 7 May, ThePrint reported that the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasts for the J&K subdivision feature weather reports for Gilgit Baltistan and Muzaffarabad — “areas of Kashmir that India believes to be under Pakistani occupation”.
IMD director general Mrutyunjay Mohapatra had then told ThePrint: “This not at all for the first time that we have shown the weather reports of Gilgit-Baltistan, Skardu and Muzaffarabad… After all, we consider this (a) part of India and we have been showing it in our national bulletin. But starting this week, we have started showing it as part of our regional centre bulletin.”
At the time of this report being published, the account had over 4,700 followers.
The only verified account following this account is Satyendra Tripathi, whose profile features a picture with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Tripathi’s bio says he is the founder of LokNeeti, a forum for the youth to engage in policymaking and a curator for the litfest ‘Khajuraho’. The festival’s Twitter account (@KhajurahoLit) is currently restricted due and requires a user to give permission to Twitter to show them the account.
(The report has been updated to include the PIB’s clarification that the new Gilgit-Baltistan Twitter account is a fake account.)