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Pulwama Attack: UK Warns Against Travel to J&K, NRIs Hold Protest at Pakistan Mission

The travel update followed UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt being challenged on social media over his Twitter statement referring to "India-administered Kashmir" as he expressed solidarity with India over the attack.

PTI

Updated:February 16, 2019, 9:59 PM IST
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Pulwama Attack: UK Warns Against Travel to J&K, NRIs Hold Protest at Pakistan Mission
Security forces cordon off the site of suicide bomb attack in Pulwama district of south Kashmir on Thursday. (PTI Photo)
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London: The UK government has updated its travel advisory for India, warning against travel to Jammu and Kashmir except very limited areas, as Indian-origin protestors gathered outside the Pakistan High Commission in London on Saturday to protest the brutal Pulwama terror attack in the state.

Forty CRPF personnel were killed and five others critically injured when a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle laden with explosives into their bus in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on Thursday.

The Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the attack on the convoy of 78 vehicles that was on its way from Jammu to Srinagar.

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which earlier condemned the "senseless and brutal act", has warned British nationals to avoid the border areas with Pakistan as well as tourist hotspots.

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at Wagah; Jammu and Kashmir, with the exception of (i) travel within the city of Jammu, (ii) travel by air to the city of Jammu, and (iii) travel within the region of Ladakh," the updated advisory said.

"The tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg fall within the areas to which the FCO advise against all travel.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the city of Srinagar and between the cities of Jammu and Srinagar on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway," it noted.

The travel update followed UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt being challenged on social media over his Twitter statement referring to "India-administered Kashmir" as he expressed solidarity with India over the attack.

"I hope that you will withdraw this phrase and demure from using it again in the future due to the connotations this seemingly innocuous phrase contains," said veteran Indian-origin Opposition Labour Party MP Virendra Sharma in a letter addressed to the minister on Friday.

In the letter, he stressed that "Jammu and Kashmir have been an integral part of the Indian state" and that the minister's use of the "deeply offensive phrase had upset Indians and British Indians.

Several others reacted to Hunt's message on Twitter with similar comments, with one asking the UK minister to get his facts right and another adding that Kashmir was and remains a state of India even before Pakistan came into existence.

Social media channels were also used to publicise a "Stand Against Terrorism" demonstration, organized by non-resident Indian (NRI) as well as British Kashmiri outfits outside the Pakistan High Commission in London on Saturday afternoon.

"We stand against terrorism all across the globe. Join us for a silent protest in showing our strength, support and solidarity," the group said in its message.

A large group of men and women of diverse age range gathered outside the diplomatic mission in Belgravia, central London, waving the Indian flag and placards reading "Vande Mataram" and "Declare Pakistan a Terrorist State", accompanied by chants such as "Bharat Mata Ki Jai", "Kashmir Hamara Hai" and "Pakistan Murdabad".

A number of representatives also made speeches calling on global action and economic sanctions against Pakistan for "inciting terrorism" in India.

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