UK issues advisory, warns citizens against travelling to J&K

 The United Kingdom on Saturday issued a travel advisory asking its citizens to avoid travelling to Jammu and Kashmir after the Government of India advised Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to leave the state in view of the security situation. The advisory, which was issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, advised against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir  “with the exception of (i) travel within the city of Jammu, (ii) travel by air to the city of Jammu, (iii) travel within the region of Ladakh”.

The advisory cautioned against “all but essential travel to the city of Srinagar and travel between the cities of Jammu and Srinagar on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway”, and also advised against travel to the tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonmarg.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office also said that the British High Commission in New Delhi was closely monitoring the situation following reports that the Jammu and Kashmir government had advised tourists and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to curtail their stay in the Kashmir Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return home as soon because of security threats.

“If you’re in Jammu and Kashmir, you should remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and keep up to date with developments, including via this travel advice,” the advisory said.

It said there have been “a number of terrorist attacks against army bases and other targets in Jammu and Kashmir,” and mentioned the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 security personnel were killed.

The advisory also mentioned the February 10, 2018 terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Sujuwan in which 16 persons were killed, the July 2017 terror attack on a bus carrying pilgrims on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway, the Uri terror attack of 2016.

“Since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM) commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, there have been widespread violent protests in the Kashmir Valley, which have resulted in deaths and serious casualties. As a result, curfews are imposed and lifted on an almost daily basis,” the advisory said.

“Foreigners remain vulnerable in rural districts and outside the main population centres and tourist areas. There is a risk of unpredictable violence, including bombings, grenade attacks, shootings and kidnapping. The long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage-takers. The level of consular assistance that the British High Commission can provide in Jammu & Kashmir is severely limited,” it added.

It may be recalled that the J&K government on Friday issued an advisory asking the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists to leave the Valley citing intelligence warning about possible terror attacks in Kashmir.

J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik met a delegation of different political parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday and Saturday amid concerns over the prevailing situation in the state.

During the meeting, the Governor asked the leaders of the parties to ask their workers to communicate to people that they should not believe in rumours and stay calm.

Referring to a J&K government’s advisory to Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists, the Governor said that it was issued on the basis of authentic intelligence inputs. He also said that some political leaders had been attributing the advisory to different things that led to unnecessary fear among the people.