India has banned foreign journalists and social media accounts from visiting the Baton Rous National Monument on the coast of the Indian state of Gujarat, as the US-based Thomson Reuters Foundation’s newspaper dress and online magazine Dress for India report details.
A top official of the National Parks Authority of India told the Thomson Reuters foundation that the decision was taken after the US news agency reported that the monument had been “busted” by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is led by Narendra Modi, the party’s prime ministerial candidate.
The Indian government has been pressing Washington to withdraw the nomination of a US presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, to become the next US president.
“It is very unfortunate that the US government has chosen to use this event as a propaganda tool to attack the reputation of the government of India,” National Parks Administration of India (NPAI) Commissioner Ajay Agrawal told the foundation.
The NPAI had announced the ban earlier in October.
The US has condemned the ban as “disgraceful”.
“We have repeatedly called on the Indian government to respect the rule of law and to allow us to hold this convention,” a spokesperson for the US embassy in India said in a statement.
“Our government remains committed to the full enjoyment of India’s unique natural resources.”
“This decision has been taken to protect the integrity of the convention.
We will continue to work with our Indian partners to ensure that these rules are respected.”
The ban comes amid an escalation of tension between India and the US over the Kashmir issue.
The Modi government has said that its Kashmir policy is based on the “Indian position” and has urged the US to withdraw from a “strategic initiative” it launched in October 2016 to build the Siachen Glacier, which straddles the Indian and Pakistani border.
The Siacen Glacier, in the Himalayas of Pakistan, is one of the world’s most significant glaciers and is considered a national treasure.
India is keen to expand its influence in the region and has also sought to build a strong military presence in the Indian-administered part of the Himalayan region, a stance that has been widely criticised by Pakistan and its allies.
India has also taken steps to promote Indian cultural, educational and recreational activities, including a national day on Indian Independence Day and a cultural festival for indigenous people in October this year.
The dress and internet magazine, which will be published in India by Thomson Reuters, has described the Bharat Ratna award ceremony, a prestigious award given by the Indian parliament, as a “monument to a man who had a lot of influence in Indian history”.
The magazine says that Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has been given the award, which has a ceremonial significance, for his “unparalleled contributions to the country’s development, and for his leadership in promoting human rights and economic development”.
“For many years, we have been fighting to establish a global culture of democracy and freedom of expression in India,” it said.
“As part of this effort, the Bharaton Ratna has become a tool to further this aim.”
The Thomson Reuters government is also taking steps to ban the US media outlet and social networking website, Mashable, for the same reasons.
A senior journalist at the Thomson said the decision to ban Mashable was taken by NPAIs decision-making committee and that the move was not the result of a specific threat.
“This is just an administrative decision, it is not a threat,” the journalist said.
The news agency declined to comment on the NPA’s statement.