The government of Australia has advised its citizens to exercise a “high degree of caution” while traveling to India, where violent protests continue to spread in response to a controversial new citizenship law, formally called the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Australian warning comes after the US, UK, Singapore, Canada and Israel issued similar advisories about unnecessary travel to India.
The latest update from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reads:
“Demonstrations against the new Citizenship Amendment Act are taking place in parts of the country. Some have turned violent. Local authorities have imposed curfews in some areas. Transport and communications may be disrupted without notice. Allow more time for travel. Be alert, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.”
“We haven’t changed our advice level: Exercise a high degree of caution in India overall. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.”
Regarding travel to “India overall,” the DFAT warns travelers to be aware of a “high threat of terrorist activity, civil unrest and crime, and the high rate of vehicle accidents.”
On the other hand, Australians are ordered not to travel to the Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir or the India-Pakistan border “due to the danger of armed clashes, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations.” This is owing to a separate political issue from earlier in the year in which the special status of Jammu and Kashmir—granting it a degree of autonomy—was revoked by the Indian government.
As for the new citizenship law, Al Jazeera reports that it “aims to grant citizenship to ‘persecuted’ Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians—and not Muslims—who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan.
“The opposition parties argue the law is discriminatory—even the United Nations has said so—and singles out nearly 15 percent Muslim minority among India’s 1.3 billion people.”
According to the DFAT, over 357,000 Australians travel to India every year, the vast majority without incident.