The United States on Friday updated its Level 2 travel alert for India and asked US citizens not to visit “most of Jammu and Kashmir” due to “terrorism and civil unrest”. It also advised US travellers to not venture within 10 km of the border with Pakistan “due to the potential for armed conflict”.
“Sporadic violence occurs particularly along the Line of Control separating India and Pakistan, and in tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley: Srinagar, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam,” the Department of State advisory added. However, it said tourists can visit the Ladakh region and its capital, Leh.
On February 14, a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist drove an explosive-laden van into a bus carrying Central Reserve Police Force soldiers in Kashmir’s Pulwama district, killing 40 of them.
A Level 1 alert means travellers should exercise normal precautions, The Indian Express reported. A Level 2 alert asks visitors to exercise caution, while a Level 3 alert means “reconsider travel”, and Level 4 is “do not travel”.
The advisory says to “exercise caution” while visiting India and recommends that women should not travel alone to the country. “Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India,” the advisory claimed. “Violent crime, such as sexual assault, has occurred at tourist sites and in other locations.”
It also warned that terrorists “may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and government facilities”.
The US Department of State said the administration has limited ability to provide emergency services in rural areas from eastern Maharashtra, northern Telangana and western West Bengal, because American employees need special permission to enter these areas. “Incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including bombings of buses, trains, rail lines, and markets, occur occasionally in the northeast,” it added.
Level 3 alert for Pakistan
On February 13, the United States had issued a Level 3 alert for Pakistan, asking citizens to “reconsider travel” to the country. It asked its citizens not to travel to Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and the “Azad Kashmir” part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
“Terrorist attacks continue to happen across Pakistan, with most occurring in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” it said. “Large-scale terrorist attacks have resulted in hundreds of casualties over the last several years. The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Pakistan due to the security environment. The US Consulate General in Peshawar is unable to provide any consular services.”