US Asks Its Citizens to Exercise Increased Caution While Travelling to India
NEW DELHI: U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory to its citizens, asking them to exercise increased caution while travelling to India due to crime and terrorism. The advisory placed India in Level 2, asking American citizens to exercise increased caution while travelling to India.
The U.S. government has advised its citizens to not travel to Jammu and Kashmir (except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh) due to terrorism and civil unrest as well as within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict.
“Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Violent crime, such as sexual assault, has occurred at tourist sites and in other locations,’’ it said.
Further, on terror threat, the State Department cautioned that “terrorist or armed groups are active in East Central India, primarily in rural areas. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.’’
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in rural areas from eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to these areas.
On safety and security norms to be observed, it advised those deciding to travel to India to not travel alone, particularly a woman and asked them to review their personal security plans, and remain alert to surroundings.
Referring to situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the travel advisory said that terrorist attacks and violent civil unrest are possible in the border State and asked American citizens to avoid all travel to this state (with the exception of visits to the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh).
The US State department cautioned that sporadic violence occurs particularly along the Line of Control (LOC) separating India and Pakistan, and in tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley: Srinagar, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam. The Indian government prohibits foreign tourists from visiting certain areas along the LOC, it pointed out.
Referring to situation on the Indo-Pak border, the advisory said that both the countries maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the border. The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point for persons who are not citizens of India or Pakistan is in the state of Punjab between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan.
On North-Eastern States, it said incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including bombings of buses, trains, rail lines, and markets, occur occasionally in the northeast. U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Manipur without special authorization from the U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata.
Referring to the situation in East Central and Southern India, the travel advisory said that Maoist extremist groups, or “Naxalites,” are active in a large swath of India from eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal, particularly in rural parts of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and on the borders of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Odisha. The Naxalites have conducted frequent terrorist attacks on local police, paramilitary forces, and government officials.
“Due to the fluid nature of the threat, all U.S. government travelers to states with Naxalite activity must receive special authorization from the U.S. consulate responsible for the area to be visited. U.S. officials traveling only to the capital cities in these states do not need prior authorization,’’ the advisory said.