Amid protests in the North East against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the US, UK, France, Canada and Israel have issued travel advisories asking their citizens to "exercise caution" while travelling to the region.
"Demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) are taking place in some parts of the country. There have been reports of violent protests in North East India, especially in Assam and Tripura. An indefinite curfew has been imposed in Guwahati (Assam) and mobile internet services have been suspended in 10 districts of Assam. Transport may be affected in various parts of the region. You should exercise caution if you are planning to travel in North East India, monitor local media for the latest information, follow instructions of the local authorities and allow more time for travel," said the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in a statement.
Likewise, the US Embassy has also listed out precautions for its citizens currently staying in the northeastern states advising them to avoid areas with demonstrations and civil disturbances and to keep a "low profile".
"US citizens in the northeastern states of India should exercise caution in light of media reports of protests and violence in response to the approval of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Government curfews are in place in some areas. Internet and mobile communications may be disrupted. Transport may be affected in various parts of the region. Protests have also been reported in other parts of the country. The US government has temporarily suspended official travel to Assam," the statement read.
The French government has also suspended air transport and asked its citizens to "stay away" from gathering. "Following the voted on new Citizenship Law (CAB), general strikes, demonstrations and scuffles with the police broke out in several cities in the states of Assam and Tripura. Air Transport to Assam is suspended for the moment. It is recommended to stay away from any gathering to regularly follow the news and to records of the Indian authorities," it added.
Canada advised its citizens to exercise caution and advised them to "check with your airline or tour operator to determine if the situation will affect your travel plans". The Israeli government, in its advisory, asked its citizens not to travel to Assam and to cut short visits to other northeastern states.
The advisories were issued after the office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations Human Rights expressed concern saying that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was "fundamentally discriminatory in nature".
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which became an Act after President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday gave his assent, triggered protests across the country, especially in Assam, where curfew has been imposed in some areas.
According to the Act, members of the Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh till 31 December, 2014, and were facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants and granted Indian citizenship.
People in the northeast, especially Assam, claims that it will undermine the Assam Accord of 1985 and filled the region with illegal migrants from neighbouring countries.
The annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe scheduled from 15 to 17 December in Guwahati has also been cancelled in the wake of massive Assam protests. Diplomatic sources said the Japanese government has clearly conveyed to New Delhi that it would not be possible for Abe to travel to Guwahati in view of large scale protests in the northeastern city.
Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen has also cancelled his three-day visit to India. Diplomatic sources said Momen cancelled his trip over the situation arising out of the passage of the controversial legislation in the Parliament. "India is historically a tolerant country which believes in secularism, but their historic position will be weakened if they deviate from that," Momen told reporters.
With inputs from agencies