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India Public Announcement

Issued by US Department of State

Mar 01, 2002

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert American citizens to a "bandh" (general strike) scheduled for March 1 in Maharashtra State. The Consulate General in Mumbai will be closed to the public on March 1. Strikes and unrest are also threatened in the states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. This Announcement expires on March 28, 2002.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu nationalist organization, has declared a "bandh" (general strike) in the State of Maharashtra for Friday, March 1. The strike will protest a mob attack on a train on February 27 in the eastern Gujarat city of Godhra that left as many as 58 people dead. Most of those killed were VHP supporters. Scattered retaliatory mob violence has occurred in Gujarat, and further outbreaks of violence or demonstrations could occur in other areas in coming days. Thousands of Hindu activists demanding that the government allow construction to begin at a proposed temple site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, have converged on Ayodhya. Preliminary work in the area on pre-fabricated components of the temple has raised Hindu-Muslim tensions.

Due to increased tensions and the high risk of violence, U.S. citizens are strongly urged to avoid travel to Ayodhya or its surrounding areas. Because of the uncertainties surrounding strikes, Americans in Gujarat and Maharashtra States should limit their movements during strikes and are advised to exercise caution in public areas and avoid demonstrations.

In the past, such strikes have disrupted public services, including public transportation and taxis, particularly in large cities such as Mumbai. Spontaneous demonstrations may also occur. The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai will be closed for routine consular services, including visa processing, on Friday, March 1. American citizens who need emergency services may call the Consulate General at telephone (022) 363-3611.

For further information regarding travel to India, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for India at Internet address http://travel.state.gov.

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