The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday urged the public to reconsider plans to travel to India after two Taiwanese were shot in New Delhi.
The ministry’s deputy spokesman, James Chang (章計平), told a press briefing that the ministry had issued a “yellow” travel alert for India in April because of poor public order, adding that it would adjust the level of alert if necessary. A yellow alert — the second-highest level — means Taiwanese should pay special attention to their safety during trips and reconsider their travel plans.
The travel alert came in the wake of a shooting incident on Sunday morning in which unidentified gunmen opened fire with automatic rifles on a tourist bus outside New Delhi’s Jama Masjid mosque, injuring Ke Chiang (柯強) and Gu Tse-wei (古澤為), cameramen with a TVBS television team that arrived in India last Saturday to film a travel and cuisine show.
Ke was shot in the stomach and underwent a four-hour operation at Lok Nayak Hospital, where he remains under observation. Gu’s head was grazed by a bullet. They were reported to be in stable condition.
“We learned from the hospital this morning that they had made a better recovery than expected. Some of the crewmembers will board the plane in India tonight and arrive in Taipei tomorrow morning,” Chang said yesterday, but added that Ke will remain hospitalized and will return to Taiwan in about a week.
Chang said India is very concerned about the incident.
“The Indian government immediately offered an apology to us after the incident took place,” Chang said, adding that Indian officials in charge of security, tourism and health also visited the two men at the hospital.
The ministry also advised Taiwanese to avoid trips to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir because of unrest between demonstrators and security forces that has escalated since June.
In Taipei, You Shiou-yun (游修雲), head of the India-Taipei Association’s tourism and culture section, said on Sunday that the shooting was expected to have a short-term impact on Taiwan-India tourism.
“The incident will definitely have a negative impact on tourism for at least a short period of time. But our minds are with the victims of the unfortunate incident now. We are glad to know they’re doing well,” You said.
You said the association, India’s representative office in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, was aware of the TV crew’s trip before their departure and immediately contacted the group to express its concerns after the shooting.
The number of Taiwanese traveling to India had been growing steadily in recent years, although the figure dropped from a peak of almost 30,000 annually to about 24,000 last year because of the global financial crisis, You said.
In related news, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said it is planning to provide the injured cameramen with information about the NDM-1 superbug and help them avoid contracting it.
NDM-1, or the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1, was first identified in the Indian capital.
The CDC listed NDM-1 as a communicable disease earlier this month, requiring local hospitals to immediately report any suspected cases, especially those in which the patient has received medical treatment in India or Pakistan.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said the CDC would alert the two victims, as well as staff at Taiwan’s representative office in New Delhi, about disease prevention, and will pay close attention to the cameramen when they return to Taiwan.