The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trad0e, in its revised travel advisory, has advised Australians to exercise a high degree of caution while travelling to India. It has cited terrorism, crime against women, and incidents of sexual harassment at religious places in India as examples to back its advice.
“We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks in India, including in regions frequented by Westerners. We assess that attacks could occur anywhere at any time with little or no warning, including in locations frequented by Australians,” reads the advisory.
Women travellers have been particularly advised to remain vigilant while travelling to India.
“Safety of women is a concern in India. Women should take particular care in all parts of India and exercise caution, even if they are travelling in a group.”
“Foreign women can be subjected to unwanted attention and more serious harassment and assault. Successful prosecutions are rare.”
Expressing concern about the language used and ideas portrayed in the travel advisory, Hon Navdeep Suri, the Indian high commissioner in Australia said that the matter has been taken up with the Australian government.
“I admit there have been some incidents. But to generalize a handful of incidents and brand the country is utterly wrong,” said Mr. Suri.
In the travel advisory, Australians have also been warned about the sporadic demonstration and protests deeming them as violent, as well as an unpredictable state of driving in India exposing high vulnerability to road accidents. They have been asked to pay close attention to their personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.
While for the state of J&K the advice to Australian travellers is not to undertake travel at all except to the Leh region, there are certain other states that the department has advised the travellers to reconsider their travel plans to.
While such language portrays India in a negative light, Mr Suri believes that bureaucracy in Australia often uses such “extreme” language and has used it before with Africa, Indonesia and France. However, he termed it as a sensitive issue which has been taken up with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “The language that has been used is very unfortunate. It’s our responsibility to make the authorities aware that this kind of language affects the sentiments of the Indians here,” said Mr. Suri.
The full advisory can be accessed here.
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