Australia cites terror, Ayodhya to caution its visitors (Second Lead)

September 29th, 2010 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney/New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) Australia Wednesday asked its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution while travelling in India due to likely terror attacks and possible communal tension over a judgment on the land dispute in Ayodhya.

The Australian high commission in New Delhi has reissued its travel advice and cautioned against possible terror attacks, civil unrest or political tension “surrounding the verdict in the contentious Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid court case Sep 30″.

“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times… Terrorist attacks could occur at any time anywhere in India with little or no warning,” it said.

The advisory comes ahead of Thursday’s judgment on the Ayodhya land dispute — an issue that sparked widespread communal violence in 1992 when some Hindu fanatics demolished the 16th century mosque constructed near what they believe to be the birthplace of Hindu god Lord Ram.

About the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games, the Australian advisory said there was “a high risk of terrorist attack in New Delhi”.

“We continue to receive reporting that terrorists plan to attack public places, including hotels and tourist locations, in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities.”

“Australians in New Delhi should be aware that the Commonwealth Games will be held in a security environment where there is a high risk of terrorism.”

Steve Moneghetti, chef de mission of Australia, told reporters in New Delhi: “I am happy with the security briefings. I think there is a feeling of confidence about how the security is being conducted and addressed here at the Games.”

“The venues are secure, the (Games) Village is secure, the transport system is secure. There is risk outside it.”

Margie McDonald, a journalist with The Australian, said: “I am anxious after the advisory but not scared and will avoid visiting public places alone or walking by myself. Had I been scared, I would not have come to India. I have spoken to at least 100 Australian players and all of them are satisfied with the arrangements at the Games Village.”

Lauren Mitchell, a gymnast, said: “The guns (of the security forces) are actually making me feel more comfortable.”

Australia’s fresh terror alert advises its nationals to avoid some parts of the country and leading tourist spots including the Red Fort and Baha’i temple in New Delhi.

In its updated advisory, while Jammu and Kashmir has a “do not travel” warning, the northeastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur have been clubbed under the “reconsider your need to travel” category.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website said: “Terrorists may also be planning attacks against Indian political and security interests. We also continue to receive reports about possible terrorist attacks against markets frequented by foreigners in New Delhi.”

India’s Supreme Court as well as the famed Lotus temple are all subject to possible terror attacks.

The Indian parliament and Red Fort are also on the list of places that could be terror targets along with hotels in New Delhi and Mumbai.

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