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Australia continues to flag India as Travel Destination that warrants a “high degree of caution”

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Taj Mahal
Is Taj Maha just a 'cemetery'? Pixabay

New Delhi, April 13, 2017: Australia may be considering India a priority country in its international relationship as the two nations move towards closer strategic and security cooperation following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s just-concluded visit to India, but in its official travel advisory Australia continues to flag India as a travel destination that warrants a “high degree of caution” .

In fact, an intending Australian traveller to India may be well discouraged from planning a visit to the country — or even cancelling a planned visit — if he or she were to read all the warnings and caveats about the “high threat of terrorist activity, civil unrest and crime, and the high rate of vehicle accidents” as well as the safety of women, poor air quality and social volatility.

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The Australian travel advisory was updated as late as March 20 this year — days before Turnbull visited India and reviewed with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “the entire gamut of bilateral relations; number of forward-looking decisions taken to further strengthen our partnership”.

India has been trying to woo visitors from Australia with its “Incredible India” campaign. Last year, India organised “Confluence: Festival of India in Australia” from August to November “to provide a boost to tourism and to the art precincts in” Indian cities.

But the advisory on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian government says “there are several regions of India where we advise Australians to reconsider your need to travel, or avoid all travel”.

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“Violent protests and demonstrations occur sporadically throughout India,” says the advisory.

“Exercise a high degree of caution in India because of the high threat of terrorist activity, civil unrest and crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.”

The advisory also includes venues of Indian festivals, religious sites and markets where “travellers should maintain heightened vigilance”.

Without naming Pakistan or any other country, the advisory points out that militants cross “the border into India with the intention of conducting attacks”.

“It is likely they will continue to try and do so. Terrorist groups regularly issue statements threatening to launch attacks in India.”

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“The threat of terrorism exists in all Indian cities and tourist centres. In the past, terrorists have targeted areas frequented by tourists including hotels, markets, tourist sites, transport hubs and public transport networks, and religious sites.

“Attacks have also targeted local courts, sporting events and cinemas, and Indian security and political establishments. Major tourist sites and shopping centres are also potential targets for attack,” the advisory goes on to say.

Cautioning against “dangerous” road travel, “undisciplined and aggressive” driving practices “poor quality and congested” Indian roads, Australian visitors are also warned that “you are three times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in India than in” the home country.

“Accidents are commonplace and the number of road traffic deaths is high. Travelling by road at night is particularly dangerous due to insufficient or non-existent street lighting and the presence of other vehicles driving with headlights off or on high beam. Vehicles may travel in the wrong direction, often without warning.”

The advisory also flags women safety as a high-priority issue, cautioning females visiting India for religious purposes against risks of sexual assaults by faith leaders.

“There are persistent allegations and media reports of sexual misconduct involving religious groups and their leaders in India. Australians visiting India for such religious purposes should be aware of these risks.”

It also notes that foreign women could be subjected to “unwanted attention and more serious harassment and assault” in India where “successful prosecutions are rare”.

After reading this ominous advisory not many Australians may be inclined to make India their immediate travel destination. (IANS)

Next Story

IOC Cancels Places for 2020 Tokyo Games from India after it Refused Visas to Pakistan

India has accused Pakistan of involvement in a suicide bombing in Kashmir last week that killed 40 paramilitary soldiers and has vowed to "isolate" its arch-rival neighbor over the attack.

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IOC, Olympic, India, tokyo games, pakistan
FILE - Shimaa Hashad of Egypt takes part in a pratice session with an air rifle at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup at Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range, in New Delhi, Feb. 20, 2019. VOA

The International Olympic Committee on Thursday canceled places for the 2020 Tokyo Games shooting competition to be awarded at an event in India after the host country refused to give visas to Pakistani shooters, the head of the sport’s governing body said.

India has accused Pakistan of involvement in a suicide bombing in Kashmir last week that killed 40 paramilitary soldiers and has vowed to “isolate” its arch-rival neighbor over the attack.

Sixteen qualifying places for the Tokyo Games were to be decided at the opening shooting World Cup event in New Delhi. But Vladimir Lisin, president of the ISSF world body, said these would now go to other qualifying events.

“The International Olympic Committee informed us this World Cup will not be included in the competitions for Olympic quotas,” Lisin, himself an IOC executive member, told the tournament opening ceremony late Thursday.

“The quotas will be distributed at another World Cup. No one can be discriminated against and we have to follow the IOC decision as part of the IOC family,” he added.

IOC, olympic, tokyo games, india, pakistan
FILE – Indian paramilitary soldiers stand by the wreckage of a bus after an explosion in Pampore, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

The IOC said it was deliberating on the controversy and would soon announce a decision.

Over 500 shooters are taking part in the Indian event, for which competition starts Saturday.

Pakistan, which has denied any role in the Kashmir attack, says two shooters and a coach were denied visas to attend the contest.

Lisin said the International Shooting Sport Federation and the Indian organizing committee had done everything possible to get the shooters to the contest.

But National Rifle Association of India president Raninder Singh said he could not go against the Indian government’s decision.

Singh also insisted no final decision on the Olympic places had been taken.

“Nothing is canceled as of now. The status as of now is we don’t know,” Singh told reporters. “There are meetings that are going on where the position is being assessed by the IOC and the government.”

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Amid widespread anger over last week’s Kashmir attack, some calls have also been made for India’s cricket team to boycott its scheduled World Cup game against Pakistan in England later this year.

Media reports said Indian cricket’s governing body, the BCCI, had prepared a letter calling for Pakistan to be banned from the cricket World Cup. (VOA)