India eases travel advisory to Iran and Israel, asks citizens to be vigilant | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India eases travel advisory to Iran and Israel, asks citizens to be vigilant

May 03, 2024 06:40 PM IST

The April 12 advisory was issued when tensions between Iran and Israel peaked following an Israeli air strike on a building in Iranian embassy complex in Damascus

NEW DELHI: India on Friday asked its nationals to be vigilant while travelling to Iran and Israel, a modification of its April 12 advisory that urged people not to visit the two countries.

An anti-Israel billboard with a picture of Iranian missiles is seen on a street in Tehran, Iran April 19 (WANA via REUTERS)
An anti-Israel billboard with a picture of Iranian missiles is seen on a street in Tehran, Iran April 19 (WANA via REUTERS)

New Delhi continues to closely monitor the situation in West Asia and has noted that Iran and Israel “have opened their airspace for several days now”, external affairs ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said.

“We advise Indian nationals to remain vigilant while travelling to these countries and be in touch with the Indian Embassy,” Jaiswal said in response to a media query on the travel advisory for Iran and Israel.

The advisory was issued on April 12, when tensions between Iran and Israel were at a high following an Israeli air strike on a building in the Iranian embassy complex in the Syrian capital of Damascus on April 1.

The strike killed seven people, including Brig Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and Iran retaliated by firing hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel on April 13.

People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that several factors influenced the decision to modify the earlier travel advisory. They pointed out that there had been a marked decrease in tensions between Iran and Israel, which was reflected in the easing of restrictions on the airspace of both countries.

There has also been a push from Israel to ease the travel restrictions because of plans to hire thousands of Indian construction workers. More than 6,000 Indian workers were expected to be sent to Israel in April but their travel plans were hit by the advisory, the people said.

There have also been calls from Indian citizens in Iran for easing of travel restrictions as a large number of students wished to come to India, the people added.

There are currently about 19,000 Indians in Israel, including nearly 1,000 workers who had gone there in recent weeks after Tel Aviv launched a drive to hire foreign labour, especially for the construction sector, to replace Palestinian workers whose permits were cancelled following the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas. The Indians in Israel include a large number of care-givers and professionals.

Iran is home to more than 4,000 Indian nationals, including students, academics and traders.

The April 12 advisory, issued before Iran carried out its retaliatory strikes on Israel, pointed to the prevailing tensions and urged all Indians “not to travel to Iran or Israel till further notice”.

It also called on Indians residing in Iran or Israel to get in touch with the Indian embassies and register themselves. “They are also requested to observe utmost precautions about their safety and restrict their movements to the minimum,” the advisory said.

Besides urging Israeli authorities to ensure the safety and well-being of Indian nationals being sent to work in the construction sector, India had conveyed its concerns over the situation in West Asia to both Iran and Israel and emphasised the need to avoid escalation.

This message was conveyed by external affairs minister S Jaishankar during separate phone conversations with Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahin and Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz.

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