New Delhi turned into fortress ahead of Obama’s visit

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NEW DELHI - Security agencies are taking no chances and an unprecedented ground-to-air security apparatus has been put in place in the national capital as US President Barack Obama arrives here for a two-day stopper today.

President Obama is meeting school and college students in Mumbai on Sunday morning before his arrival to New Delhi.

He will also be visiting the St Xavier’s College, where he will interact with India’s Generation Next.

Obama, who reaches the capital on Sunday afternoon from Mumbai, will have a busy schedule-visiting the Humayun’s Tomb and Rajghat, meeting Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and addressing the Parliament before he leaves on Tuesday.

It has been reported that the authorities here have held consultations with their American counterparts on various aspects of security ahead of President Obama’s New Delhi visit.

Security and intelligence officials have already secured and sanitized the ITC Maurya Hotel in Delhi, where the Obamas’ will be staying during their visit.

All routes leading to and out of the hotel have been placed under surveillance by both American and Indian security and intelligence agencies due to the high profile visit.

The ITC Maurya Sheraton has been made out of bounds for the public. Snipers have been deployed on rooftops along the route that the Obamas’ will take during the next two days.

Places like Humayun’s tomb and Rajghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, which are on the US President’s itinerary, have been closed to other visitors.

The security agencies are also ensuring foolproof security for US First Lady Michelle Obama as she is expected to have her own programme during the visit.

Around 2,000 police and paramilitary personnel will be deployed in and around the hotel, which had earlier hosted US Presidents Bill Clinton in 2000 and George W Bush in 2006 besides US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year.

Mock security drills have been carried out at the Parliament, where the US President will address a joint session on Monday evening.

“The arrangements that we have made for him have been done several times before, when the Pakistani head of state visited us or when the Israeli Prime Minister had come. There is no special treatment just because he is the American President,” said Satender Garg, Joint Commissioner of Police, Traffic.

Obama is the fifth American president to visit India, the others being D.D. Eisenhower (1959), Richard Nixon (1969), Jimmy Carter (1978), Bill Clinton (2000) and George W. Bush (2006). (ANI)

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