Indian cities are in turmoil, and the world is wary.
Several countries have deemed India an unsafe travel destination in the wake of protests against the country’s new citizenship law turning violent and cases of police brutality coming to the fore in parts of the country.
Thousands are demonstrating against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, which was cleared by parliament last week. From capital city New Delhi to commercial hub Mumbai and India’s Silicon Valley Bengaluru, much of India is protesting. The bone of contention is the exclusion of Muslims from the legislation that fast tracks citizenship for persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians who have arrived from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, or Pakistan.
Here’s what some countries have told their citizens in advisories issued over the last few days:
The US embassy website issued a travel alert on Dec. 13:
US citizens in the northeastern states of India should exercise caution in light of media reports of protests and violence in response to the approval of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Government curfews are in place in some areas. Internet and mobile communications may be disrupted. Transport may be affected in various parts of the region. Protests have also been reported in other parts of the country. The US government has temporarily suspended official travel to Assam.
The state agency also offered a “Traveler’s Checklist,” which includes valuable security information for those living and traveling abroad such as avoiding areas with demonstrations and civil disturbances, keeping a low profile, monitoring local media for updates, and so on.
On Saturday (Dec. 14), the Embassy of Saudi Arabia to India issued a travel advisory for its citizens to exercise caution and avoid trips to northeast Indian states due to the ongoing protests.
On Dec. 15, the UAE Embassy in New Delhi issued a similar notice asking citizens to stay away from protest zones. In case of emergency, Emirati travellers are requested to contact 00919911120000.
Canada has told its citizens who are planning trips to India to “exercise a high degree of caution due to a continuing threat of terrorist attacks throughout the country at all times.” The government has also recommended citizens to avoid “non-essential travel” to Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland and avoid all travel to the western border with Bangladesh.
Demonstrations against new citizenship legislation are taking place in the northeastern states of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Sikkim, as well as in various other cities across India. There are violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
In the northeastern states, local authorities have imposed curfews in some areas. Other movement restrictions may be put in place without notice. Internet service has been suspended in some areas.
Expect transportation disruptions, including flight delays and cancellations.
Check with your airline or tour operator to determine if the situation will affect your travel plans
Monitor local media for updated information on locations affected by demonstration
On Dec. 16, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the UK issued its warning:
Demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are taking place in some parts of the country. There have been violent protests including in Delhi, Assam, Tripura and West Bengal. Internet and mobile services have been suspended in parts of Assam and West Bengal. Curfews have been imposed in some areas and transport has been affected.
Further disruptions, including in other parts of India, may take place without prior notice. You should exercise caution, monitor local media for the latest information, follow instructions of the local authorities and allow more time for travel.
You should avoid protests and large gatherings. Stampedes have occurred during some events with large crowds, including at political rallies and religious gatherings, resulting in deaths and injuries.
Australia has warned its citizens of the backlash breaking out across India:
Demonstrations against the new Citizenship Amendment Act have taken place in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Delhi NCR, including reports of violence. Local authorities have imposed curfews in some areas. Transport and communications may be disrupted in affected areas without prior notice. Avoid large public gatherings.
The French government has asked its citizens to keep a distance from the region.
“Following the voted on new Citizenship Law (CAB), general strikes, demonstrations and scuffles with the police broke out in several cities in the states of Assam and Tripura. Air transport to Assam is suspended for the moment. It is recommended to stay away from any gathering, to regularly follow the news and to records of the Indian authorities (sic),” the authorities said.
Israel’s foreign ministry told citizens to not visit Assam because of “violent riots with an ethnic background stopping traffic and flights and disrupting internet and phone services,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
The state also asked travellers to and cut short visits to other parts of Northeast “since the riots could spread and disruptions in Assam could cause disruptions elsewhere,” the daily newspaper wrote.
On Dec. 17, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou said potential Taiwan visitors to India are warned to exercise extra caution and reconsider their travel plans, under the ministry’s third-highest travel alert, which is color-coded yellow, in its four-tier warning system, news channel Focus Taiwan reported.
“Protesters have been converging on government offices and burning public transportation infrastructure, causing the temporary closure of airports and train stations over the past week and the implementation of a curfew in some parts of Assam,” Ou said.