Saturday, 23 September 2017

Australia, Canada, UK Issue New Travel Advisories for India

INDIA

NEW DELHI: Australia, Canada and the UK have issued fresh advisories to their citizens travelling to India to avoid visiting parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and the India-Pakistan border, barring the Wagah border.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the UK and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also warned their citizens about the recent Cauvery dispute-related violence.

On September 16, the FCO updated its travel advisory cautioning its citizens “against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of travel within the city of Jammu, travel by air to Jammu and travel within the region of Ladakh.” It also advised “against all but essential travel” to Srinagar and travel between the cities of Jammu and Srinagar on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

The advisory said, “The tourist destinations of Phalgam, Gulmarg and Sonmarg fall within the areas to which the FCO advises against all travel.”

The same day, Global Affairs Canada also advised its citizens against travelling to “Jammu and Kashmir, with the exception of Ladakh via Manali or by air to Leh, due to sporadic terrorist activity and violent demonstrations.” Besides, “areas within the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab, due to the possibility of landmines and unexploded ordnance, as well as unmarked border areas.”

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It said, “The Wagah border crossing and towns farther from the border, such as Amritsar in Punjab and Bikaner and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, are excluded from this advisory.” FCO also kept Wagah out of the advisory.

In the case of the north eastern state, the countries’ advisories have asked their citizens to either cancel or reconsider their visit to these states citing recent militant attacks: the shooting of 14 people in a market in Assam’s Kokrajhar district this past August and the killing of 18 soldiers in Manipur’s Thoubal district last year.

Global Affairs Canada advised against “non-essential travel” to “Manipur and the areas of Arunachal Pradesh that border with Myanmar, due to the threat of insurgency” besides advising travelers to also avoid areas in Assam bordering Bangladesh and Nagaland bordering Myanmar “as they are significantly affected by insurgency.”

A large number of tourists from these three countries visit the north east every year, particularly Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, home to the one-horned rhino.

In 2013, a similar travel advisory was issued by Australia. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said, “We continue to recommend Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in India overall because of the risk of terrorism, civil unrest, crime and vehicle accidents.”

“Possible targets include public places in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities, and Indian security and political interests. Major secular and religious holidays could provide terrorist groups an opportunity or pretext to stage an attack,” the advisory added. However, the overall advice for Jammu and Kashmir and north eastern parts of India was similar to the past ones.

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