Israel asks Himachal to help trace its missing nationalsNovember 18th, 2009 - 10:56 pm ICT by IANS
Shimla, Nov 18 (IANS) Himachal Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal was Wednesday asked by the Israeli government to help in tracing its nationals who have gone missing in the hill state, an official statement said.
A delegation of the Himachal Pradesh government headed by Dhumal is in Israel these days on an official visit to explore possibilities of cooperation with Israel in various fields.
Dhumal met Israel’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon in Tel Aviv.
“Ayalon discussed various issues with Dhumal. He also requested Dhumal to help trace their three nationals who have been missing in the hill state for quite some time,” said the statement by the Himachal Pradesh government.
In July this year, 24-year-old Israeli-American backpacker Amichai went missing while trekking in the picturesque Parbati Valley in Kullu district, about 300 km from the state capital Shimla.
Amichai’s father Jacob Shtainmetz along with local police carried out an extensive search for his son in the Parbati Valley for more than three months before going back to his country.
Shtainmetz even hired the services of private rescue team to trace his son, and announced a reward of Rs.100,000 for anyone giving clues about his son.
Amichai’s is not an isolated case. At least 19 foreign tourists, including three Israeli nationals, have gone missing in the Kullu Valley in the past 17 years.
Superintendent of Police (Kullu) K.K. Indoria told IANS: “We do have a problem with some of the Israelis who come here after three years of compulsory military service, and are desperate to have a good time. They generally don’t take many precautions. They prefer to stay in isolated, secluded areas. Some of them get involved in petty quarrels with locals. We have even asked their embassy officials to monitor their travel schedules.”
According to the state tourism department, around 50,000 backpackers pour into the valley every summer. Of them, as many as 10,000 to 15,000 are from Israel.
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