India objects to foreign travel advisories

Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that India would convey its reservations with the travel advisories issued by United States and other nations based on a perceived increase in security threats amid the festival season.

Media reports said that Foreign Minister S M Krishna will raise the issue at the Commonwealth Summit with Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK, who also are among the countries that have issued the travel advisories and will advise them travel to India is safe.

Five countries including the US, the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia have issued travel advisories for India during the upcoming festive season and are not expected to be lifted before January. The five countries together account for over 35 percent of annual foreign tourist arrivals to India, of which the share of the US is over 16 percent.

“The Department of State reminds US citizens of the continued possibility of terrorist attacks throughout India and urges citizens to pay particular attention to their personal security during the Indian holiday season, which includes Hindu, Islamic, and other religious and secular holidays between October and January,” a statement from the US consulate said. The Australian government in its advisory said, “terrorist attacks could occur at any time anywhere in India with little or no warning”.

Speaking at a media briefing, Mathai said, “What we have been told is that these countries are obliged under their legal system to regularly advise their citizens on travel related issues to any foreign country.”

“It is understood that these countries took on board some of the Indian media reports about the heightened security concerns and the precautions in India during the festive season and had accordingly brought this to the attention of their citizens.

“There have also been references to some of our own travel advisories from time to time which are not of the same nature. It is a combination of different sources of information based on which they make their assessment,” he said.

“We on our part have conveyed it certainly to the Americans, and we will do it with the others, that we feel that the language of these advisories was a little disproportionate in that the security situation in India is basically normal and tourists have nothing to fear.

“The Minister for Tourism in fact spoke to me about this and he highlighted the fact that Jammu and Kashmir this year has received a record number of tourists, the highest in 25 years,” he said.

“And of course we will be conveying this kind of information to our interlocutors, and we will continue to convey to them that whatever they wish to do under their own legal obligations should be proportionate and carefully modulated,” Mathai said.

Australian Government Travel Advisory for India can be found at the below link

Summary of Australian Government Travel Advisory for India

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time anywhere in India with little or no warning.
  • On 7 September 2011, a bomb exploded outside New Delhi’s High Court, killing a number of people and injuring many others. Australians should monitor the media for further developments and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • On 13 July 2011, bombings occurred at Zaveri Bazaar, the Opera area and Dadar in Mumbai. At least 17 people were killed and over a hundred injured. In major cities, including Mumbai and New Dehli, enhanced security measures have been put in place at transport hubs, such as airports and railway stations, and government buildings.
  • There have been many large terrorist attacks in India in recent years. For example, in 2008, over 170 people were killed and more than 300 were injured in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks targeting places frequented by Westerners in Mumbai. Australians were among the casualties.
  • As of August 2011, media reporting notes that there is a continued threat of terrorist attacks in India, particularly in major cities including New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
  • We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning to attack India. Many past attacks in Indian cities have been indiscriminate and not directed at a particular target. Possible targets include public places, including hotels and tourist locations, in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities. Indian political and security interests may also be targeted.
  • In the past, terrorists have targeted areas frequented by tourists, such as hotels, markets and tourist sites, and Indian security and political interests, and could do so again.
  • Major secular and religious holidays could provide terrorist groups an opportunity or pretext to stage an attack.
  • Violent protests and demonstrations occur frequently throughout India. Australians are urged to avoid protests, to monitor international and local media, and to follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • We advise you not to travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, other than to the Ladakh region via Manali, or by air to the city of Leh, due to frequent armed clashes and terrorist activities.
  • We advise you not to travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at the international border crossing at Atari-Wagah.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the north-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur because of the risk of armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism-related incidents. If you do decide to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution.

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