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Foreigners in Chandigarh cutting short trip after Mumbai attacks

By Alkesh Sharma, IANS,

Chandigarh : Rattled over the terror attack on India’s financial capital, Mumbai, many foreign tourists and delegates to a conference in Chandigarh have decided to cut short their visit and to return home at the earliest.

Around 175 foreign delegates from over 10 countries were participating in the four-day ‘Agro Tech 2008’, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)

Delegates from Italy Germany, Canada, Spain, the UK, Japan and the Netherlands have come to the city to participate in the eighth edition of biennial Agro Tech, that will continue till Dec 1.

“I have received scores of calls since Thursday from my friends residing in Canada who are worried about my safety in the wake of recent mayhem in Mumbai. Although I do not know that what actually happened there but I am really scared about my safety,” Alfred Wahl, president of Polar Genetics in Alberta, Canada told IANS.

“This is my third visit to India in the last two years and I did not expect such thing to happen in a city like Mumbai. My friends here have also told me about the similar incidents in various cities in the past and it seems that no city is safe,” he said.

Maria Steward, who has come from the UK to participate in the event, has decided to cut short her visit and is seeking a place on the first available flight.

“I have decided to fly back via Germany immediately after the Agro Tech from the very first flight in which I manage to get a ticket. Otherwise, I was due to return Dec 15 and had plans to visit Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan during my stay in India”, she said, adding her friends urged her to return to the UK and not visit Mumbai.

Meanwhile, the CII authorities have assured the safety of all the foreign delegates and visitors visiting the Agro Tech at Parade Ground here.

“We had a meeting with the Inspector General of Chandigarh police and we apprised him about the security measures that we needed at the venue and at the hotels where our foreign guests are staying,” Charu Mathur, regional director of CII (northern region) told IANS.

“Apart from this we also have our own private security officials who are stationed at the venue round the clock”, she added.

However, a few foreign visitors were not deterred by the happenings.

“I do not know how to react at this juncture, as there is no fault of India for these terror attacks and this can happen anywhere in the world. My parents back home are though very worried about my safety and I am keeping a close tab on all the developments in Mumbai through internet,” said Steven Smith, a young horticulture expert from Canada.

“One thing that is of utmost concern is that hostages in Mumbai included a huge number of foreigners but I got news in the morning that all of them have been freed. Here I also appreciate the efforts of India’s security personnel,” he added.