New US travel advisory for India warns about 'terrorism, rape'
In its latest travel advisory for India, the United States has asked its citizens to exercise increased caution due to terrorism and crimes against women. The level two travel advisory issued by the US State Department on Monday urged its citizens not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir due to terrorism and civil unrest. However, it allowed travelers to visit eastern Ladakh.
Why does this story matter?
J&K has notably witnessed increased terror incidents in recent weeks. In 2018 and 2019 as well, the US had issued advisories for women travelers, raising the issue of their safety. A level two advisory indicates "exercise increased caution." Meanwhile, levels one, three, and four denote "exercise normal precautions," "reconsider travel," and "do not travel," respectively.
US asked women to not travel alone
The advisory said Indian authorities report rape as one of the "fastest-growing crimes." Sexual assaults have occurred at tourist sites and other locations, it said. "Do not travel alone, particularly if you are a woman," it said. The advisory cautioned Americans against traveling to Naxalite-Maoist insurgency-hit regions in central and eastern India, and northeast India, which has witnessed violence by ethnic insurgent groups.
'Terrorists may attack without warning'
Further, US government employees are barred from traveling to northeastern states without authorization from the US Consulate General in Kolkata. For J&K, the advisory warned that terrorists might attack with little or no warning, potentially targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, etc. It advised against visiting areas within 10 kilometers of the India-Pakistan border.
US calls J&K a 'state'
Notably, the travel advisory also referred to J&K as a "state" and not a union territory. The reference ignores the fact that the erstwhile state of J&K was bifurcated into two federally-controlled UTs in 2019 after the revocation of its special status under Article 370.
Level 1 COVID-19 travel notice for India
Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a level one COVID-19 notice for Americans visiting India. The level one health notice indicates a low level of viral infections in India. "Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with a Food and Drug Administration authorized vaccine," the CDC said.
Level 3 travel advisory for Pakistan
Separately, the US has issued a level three travel advisory for Pakistan, urging its citizens to reconsider travel. It specifically highlighted incidents of terrorism and kidnapping in Balochistan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Terrorists have previously targeted US diplomats and diplomatic facilities in Pakistan, it said. "Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks in Pakistan," it said, adding that such attacks target both civilians and security forces.