x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

India hits out over Diwali travel warnings

India reacts angrily after travel advisories issued by the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand warn of the possibility of terrorist attacks during the Diwali festival season.

NEW DELHI // India reacted angrily yesterday to travel advisories issued by the US and other countries that warned of the possibility of terrorist attacks during the Diwali festival season.

Security has been heightened in many Indian cities in recent days, and the advisories warned visitors to be vigilant after media reports cited an increased risk of militant attacks.

But the tourism minister, Subodh Kant Sahay, dismissed the advice as "nothing but scaremongering" that would damage the tourism industry during its peak season for foreign travellers.

"I have taken it up with the external affairs ministry and asked it to persuade these countries to withdraw the travel advisories immediately," he told the Times of India.

India has been hit by a series of attacks in recent years, with the latest incident in September when 14 people were killed in explosions outside the New Delhi High Court. No one has been charged over the attack.

Islamist militants killed 166 people in Mumbai in 2008 in a siege of the city that led to many tourists cancelling holidays to India.

The US Embassy in New Delhi last week released an advisory that warned "of the continued possibility of terrorist attacks throughout India".

It urged "citizens to pay particular attention to their personal security during the Indian holiday season".

"In the past, terrorists have targeted markets, public transportation such as trains and public buses, religious sites, hotels, and restaurants," it said.

Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also advised citizens to be cautious over the festival season.

Diwali will be celebrated in India today, with other religious festivals due in the following weeks.