External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday appealed to pilgrims going on the annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra not to do anything that might tarnish India's image.
“This Yatra goes through the territories of two countries,” Sushma Swaraj said while flagging off the first batch of this year's Yatra here.
“When we step into China from India, they all judge and know our behaviour and culture,” she said.
“So please do not do things that you do knowingly or unknowingly in India but are not acceptable in their country.”
This year, 1,430 pilgrims are going in 25 batches through the Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand and the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim.
This is against last year's 999 pilgrims in 23 batches. Both the extra pilgrims and batches will be going through the Nathu La Pass route that was thrown open by China last year.
Sushma Swaraj said that steps have been taken to ensure continuous tracking of the Yatra.
“Earlier what happened was that though our liaison officer could stay in touch with the pilgrims, he used to lose contact with us once he crosses the border,” she said.
“This time we have arranged for a phone that will help him stay in touch with us continuously.”
The Minister said that now the government can stay updated with the condition of the pilgrims and medical facilities whenever needed would be extended.
Sushma Swaraj also said that the Nathu La Pass route being motorable, senior citizens and elderly people could also now undertake the Yatra.