Assam minister urges UK, Australia to rectify travel advisory on state

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Guwahati, Sep 21 (IANS) Assam Tourism Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday urged Britain and Australia to rectify their travel advisories on Assam and termed the move to club the state with other disturbed north-eastern states as a “careless oversight”.

“Assam is a fine abode of natural beauty while its peace loving people give immense love and affection to all those who come here. Any misrepresentation of the actual situation creates unnecessary fears besides impacting the tourism potential of the state, as this can have a spiralling effect,” said the minister.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an advisory to its citizens saying, “Although the overall security situation in the North-East of India is improving, some areas within the North-Eastern states, especially in Manipur and Assam, still experience sudden and random outbreaks of violence”.

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“There have been several incidents of violence in Assam including a shooting in Kokrajhar on August 5, 2016 resulting in 14 deaths, and grenade explosions in Lakhimpur, Karbi Anglong and Guwahati. Review your security arrangements carefully, seek advice from the local authorities and avoid large crowds.”

Similarly, the Australian advisory says “We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to these areas due to the risk of armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and separatist and insurgent violence, including in rural areas. Insurgent groups have attacked civilians and bombed buildings in these states. On 5 August 2016 terrorists attacked a market at Balajan Tinali in Kokrajhar district in the state of Assam killing at least 14 civilians.”

Terming the Kokrajhar incident as a rare occurrence which can unfortunately be experienced by any modern society, the Tourism Minister said that the law and order situation in Assam is perfect.

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“I wish to reassure my distinguished friends in the Governments of Britain and Australia that the diverse ethnic & cultural groups of Assamese society have co-existed with enormous harmony and displayed exemplary bonhomie for decades together. Any representation of minor skirmishes as statewide disturbance amounts to inexplicable exaggeration and causes unnecessary anxiety for our esteemed tourists who wish to visit the state,” Sarma said.

“We shall highly appreciate if the two countries immediately withdraw the said advisory,” Sarma added.



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