U.S. Tells Citizens to ‘Exercise Increased Caution’ While Visiting India
U.S. State Department asks citizens to avoid visiting Jammu and Kashmir, except eastern Ladakh, and east-central India.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory on Jan. 10 putting India at Level 2 i.e. exercise increased caution. The state department blamed crime and terrorism for the increased level of caution advised to its travelers.
“Some areas have increased risk. Do not travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh) due to terrorism and civil unrest, and within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict,” the advisory said.
The advisory further warned travelers from visiting east-central India, primarily rural areas, due to terrorist and armed groups present there. “Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities,” it said.
It also added that the U.S. government has “limited ability” to provide emergency services to its citizens in rural areas of eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal, where Maoist extremist groups are present, since they require special authorization to visit.
Women have been discouraged from traveling alone as rape is “one of the fastest growing crimes in India.”
The travel warnings given by the U.S. State Department come in four levels, with Level 1 for normal precaution, Level 2 for exercise increased caution, Level 3 for reconsider travel and Level 4 for “Do Not Travel.”
The United States also cautioned its citizens to “reconsider travel” to Pakistan. It also listed many regions in the country, such as Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), under the most dangerous Level 4 category.
“These improvements will provide U.S. citizens with clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide,” the State Department said about the travel advisory system that is followed by multiple countries now.
Countries on Level 4 are Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, North Korea, South Sudan and Central African Republic.
In the United Kingdom’s latest travel advisory issued on Jan. 5 about India, it said, “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at Wagah.”
Travel in Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of travel within the city Jammu, travel by air to the city of Jammu, and travel within the region of Ladakh was advised against. “The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the city of Srinagar and travel between the cities of Jammu and Srinagar on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. The tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg fall within the areas to which the FCO advise against all travel,” it said. They also advised against travel to Manipur.