India travel information: Safety and security
Summary - factual update to information on demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act
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Advice current as at 4:00 am 20 Jan 2020.
Keep a photocopy of your passport, Indian visa and flight ticket separately from the originals when travelling. Leave copies at home where others can access them, and also store them electronically so you can access them easily. If your passport is lost or stolen, notify the police immediately and obtain a police report.
Women travellers should exercise caution when travelling in India even if travelling in a group. Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk. British women have been the victims of sexual assault in Goa, Delhi and Rajasthan and women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men. Serious sexual attacks involving foreign nationals have been reported. In April 2018, a Latvian woman was sexually assaulted and strangled in Thiruvallam, Kerala. More recently, in December 2018 a British woman was raped in Goa. If you’re a woman travelling in India you should respect local dress codes and customs and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, when alone at any time of day. See these travel tips for women travellers.
If you are the victim of a sex crime, see information for British nationals affected by rape or sexual assault abroad.
Taxis and public transport
Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night. If you have to use a taxi, get one from hotel taxi ranks. Exercise caution when using pre-paid taxis at airports as there have been instances of British tourists becoming the victims of a scam by taxi drivers and others who offer cheap transportation and/or hotels, unwanted tours and extended taxi rides. Travellers who accept these offers have reported being threatened with violence when they have declined to pay.
Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. If you’re being collected at the airport by a hotel driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. If you book a taxi online, there’s a facility whereby you can let your friends/families know the details of your journey in case of an emergency. You can send your details to pre-selected contacts who can then pinpoint your exact location. If you’re the victim of abuse call 100 for police assistance or 1091 or 1096 if you’re the victim of sexual harassment.
Be particularly careful with your luggage when travelling by buses and trains, and keep your handbags safe in large crowds.
Be wary of confidence tricksters, particularly in Agra and Jaipur, who promise large amounts of cash for delivery of jewellery abroad in return for an initial deposit. The jewellery is worthless and the deposit, often amounting to thousands of pounds, is lost.
Jammu & Kashmir
The FCO advise against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of (i) travel within the city Jammu, (ii) travel by air to the city of Jammu, (iii) travel within the region of Ladakh. The tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg, the city of Srinagar and the Jammu-Srinagar national highway are within the areas where the FCO advise against all travel.
On 2 August 2019, Indian media reported that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir had advised tourists and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to curtail their stay in the Kashmir Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return home as soon as possible because of security threats. The British High Commission in New Delhi is monitoring the situation. You should remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and keep up to date with developments, including via this travel advice. If you’re in areas of Jammu and Kashmir where the FCO advise against travel, consider carefully your need to remain and keep your departure options under close review.
There have been a number of terrorist attacks against army bases and other targets in Jammu and Kashmir. On 14 February 2019 a terrorist attack took place in Kashmir targeting Indian security forces on the highway between Jammu and Srinagar, with many killed and injured.
On 10 February 2018, a terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Sujuwan killed 16 and injured 20. On 10 July 2017, a terrorist attack on a bus of Hindu pilgrims on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway killed 7 and injured many others. There have also been violent protests and operations by security forces in the Kashmir Valley in 2016 and 2017 which have resulted in a number of deaths and serious casualties. Curfews and other restrictions can be imposed and lifted frequently and quickly. You should remain vigilant, monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company.
An Indian army base in Uri, close to the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, was attacked by terrorists in September 2016. You should remain vigilant and monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company.
Since the death of Hizbul Mujahadeen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July 2016, there have been widespread violent protests in the Kashmir Valley which have resulted in deaths and serious casualties. As a result, curfews are imposed and lifted on an almost daily basis.
On 3 October 2016, the Jammu and Kashmir government confirmed foreign nationals travelling to the Nubra valley in Leh no longer require a protected area permit to visit the area.
Foreigners remain vulnerable in rural districts and outside the main population centres and tourist areas. There is a risk of unpredictable violence, including bombings, grenade attacks, shootings and kidnapping. The long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The level of consular assistance that the British High Commission can provide in Jammu & Kashmir is severely limited.
Other northern states
The FCO advises against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan other than travel across the international border at Wagah. On 2 November 2014, an attack caused multiple fatalities on the Pakistan side of the Wagah border crossing after the flag lowering ceremony.
The border between India and Pakistan in Rajasthan is unmarked in some areas. Approaching the border away from an official crossing point could be dangerous, and where unmarked could lead to a visitor straying into Pakistan.
Never trek alone. Trekkers should travel in groups and engage local guides. Use a reputable agency and stay on established routes. Leave a message at your accommodation about where you are going and when you expect to return. It is extremely unlikely to get any phone signal in the mountains so please register your whereabouts using the online C form. The following hazards exist throughout the year, especially above 3000m: sudden weather changes, avalanches and snow drifts, landslides and flooding, rock falls and thunderstorms. For the more intrepid climbers you will need special permits.
There are no commercial mountain rescue services operating above 3,000 metres. In some border areas only the Indian Air Force is permitted to carry out air rescues. However, they are under no obligation to perform air rescues; have limited resources to do so and can only get clearance to carry out rescues during working hours. Make sure your insurance policy covers you for altitudes over 2,400 metres and mountain rescue and helicopter costs.
East and north-east India
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the state of Manipur except the state capital Imphal and the Meiti Valley areas, which include Loktak Lake, Keibul Lamjao National Park and the Imphal War Cemetery. If you plan to travel to Imphal and the surrounding Meiti Valley areas then do so only by air after checking the latest security conditions. There is a risk of terrorism and organised crime in Manipur, especially in rural areas. Although foreigners have not been targeted, attacks can be indiscriminate.
Some areas within the north-eastern states, especially in Manipur and Assam, still experience sudden and random outbreaks of violence. Review your security arrangements carefully, seek advice from the local authorities and avoid large crowds.
Violent Maoist extremist groups (Naxalites) are active in the rural areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkand, Odisha, Maharashtra and along the border with Andhra Pradesh. There is a risk of violent crime in the rural areas of Bihar and Jharkhand. There have been skirmishes on the India/Bangladesh border. There are certain security guidelines that need to be adhered to by foreign tourists and researchers during their visits to tribal areas in Odisha. Check the advice of the local authorities if you plan to visit the rural areas of these states.
Indian government permits are required for travel to Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. You should apply well in advance (at least 3 months). In India, you should apply at the liaison office of the state for which you require a permit or the Foreigners Regional Registration Office. Permits for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be issued on arrival in Port Blair but this is not the case for the other states. Permit regulations can change at any time. Contact the respective state liaison office or the Bureau of Immigration – India for the latest guidance.
The FCO advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, except for travel across the international border at Wagah.
The India/Pakistan border in Gujarat is unmarked in some areas. Approaching it away from an official crossing point could be dangerous and where unmarked could lead to you straying into Pakistan illegally.
If you’re travelling into Mumbai International Airport (known formally as Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport) you should allow sufficient time for transiting between flights if you need to change from International Terminal 2 to Domestic Terminals 1A and 1B, even if you’re using the airport shuttle service. At any of these terminals, please be alert to unofficial taxi drivers who may charge high fares. Official pre-paid taxi services are available from inside all terminal buildings and many hotels offer airport transfer facilities.
The vast majority of British nationals visiting Goa do so without any problems. However, there have been a few serious incidents involving British nationals, most recently 5 serious sexual assaults occurring between October 2017 and December 2018. In March 2017, a young female traveller was murdered. If you’re a solo female traveller, you should exercise caution around strangers. Don’t accept offers of lifts from people you don’t know well, including other foreigners. You should observe and respect local dress and customs. See our travel tips for women travellers.
Take particular care of your bags and purses; there have been instances of bags being snatched by people riding past on bikes. Avoid unlit and remote beaches after dark. Keep your passport and other valuables safe.
Don’t leave your drinks unattended. There have been reports of drinks being spiked and travellers, including British nationals, subsequently being robbed or assaulted.
You should follow warnings posted at beaches and instructions issued by lifeguards. Every year several people drown due to the strong currents in the sea. Emergency service standards may differ from those in the UK.
Road traffic accidents are common and many fatal accidents occur each year. Wear a good quality helmet if renting a motorcycle or scooter.
Possession or consumption of drugs is illegal. If arrested, you may be incarcerated for several years whilst your case comes to trial, and a conviction for either offence may lead to a very long prison sentence.
Car and motorbike accidents are one of the biggest causes of injury and death overseas. Several British nationals die each year on Indian roads. If possible, avoid travelling at night. Always travel in a well-maintained vehicle with seatbelts. If you travel by motorbike, wear a helmet and proper footwear.
Tourist boats and other small crafts rarely carry life-saving equipment.
Although piracy has not so far affected India’s territorial waters, it poses a significant threat in parts of the Indian Ocean, especially for shipping/mariners that don’t take appropriate precautions or follow agreed shipping industry best practice guidelines. Mariners should be vigilant.
Ships and their crew must have the necessary authorisation and paperwork before entering Indian territorial waters. They must abide by Indian laws and regulations as long as they are in those waters. If carrying weapons on board ships in Indian territorial waters Indian laws and regulations must be followed.
There are strong currents off many coasts. Most beaches don’t have warning signs, flags or life-saving equipment. Drownings are common.
Additional security measures have been implemented at airports across the country. If you’re travelling through an airport you should allow additional time to complete check-in and security as you and your baggage may be required to undergo random x-rays and baggage checks.
Don’t accept food or drinks from strangers. There have been reports of travellers being drugged and robbed on trains often on overnight journeys. Take particular care of your passport and valuables when boarding and while on the train. Avoid individuals at railway stations offering tickets and tours.
Strikes or “bandh”, political rallies and demonstrations occur frequently throughout the country and can turn violent, particularly around elections or in the wake of the death of party or government leaders. Transport and public services may be disrupted at short notice. Visitors to India should avoid protests or large gatherings. Follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company. Monitor local media and follow any curfew restrictions that may be in place.
Quick Facts Tourist Information for:India
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Visitors/Tourists: 6,309,000 in 2011
English (official language) 11%
Bengali (official regional language) 8.1%
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Population: 21,753,486 (in 2011)
Largest City: Mumbai