Massive security ring thrown in for Barack Obama

Delhi looked like a fortress with over 70,000 personnel on duty

New Delhi: The first day of US President Barack Obama’s three-day visit to India saw unprecedented multi-layered security cover in most parts of central Delhi as the President zipped past scheduled routes in his armoured vehicle, the Beast, starting from the Delhi airport to ITC Maurya Sheraton to parts of Lutyens Delhi and Rajghat to attend his scheduled ceremonies and meetings.

The convoy’s route witnessed heavy police presence, with Delhi police sleuths lining up along crucial stretches to man the outer ring of the security structure even as the US security service officials were spotted guarding the innermost layer.

Obama’s convoy was blocked from the view of the media and the public by strategically placed buses. The Delhi police did not allow the cameras to capture the stretch where the convoy passed by. The same protocol was followed for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who received Obama and his wife at the airport, in a departure from protocol.

The area around the airport was cordoned off for about 25 minutes after Obama left, as was the case at other places where Obama visited. Heavy traffic snarls were also reported at some places due to convoy’s movement.

The Delhi traffic police has been issuing advisories for the past few days urging commuters to keep away from stretches like Dhaula Kuan, Sardar Patel Marg, India Gate roundabout and Rajghat. Several central Delhi areas, especially stretches around India Gate, looked like a fortress with over 70,000 personnel drawn from the Delhi police and paramilitary forces guarding every nook and corner and more than 15,000 CCTV cameras relaying every movement live to a central control room.

Air Force One landed at the Palam airport at about 10 am Sunday morning after which the major roads near the ITC Maurya Sheraton hotel, where the US President is staying, were closed completely, with policemen manning the forest area of the ridge that lies near the hotel.

It was followed by sanitisation of roads around Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rajghat and Hyderabad House where the US President visited later in the day. At the same time, there was visible exhaustion on the faces of policemen who left no stone unturned to thwart any untoward incident. “We are on the road since early morning and have been instructed not to leave our positions till late evening to ensure the US President’s safety,” a Delhi police head constable said, adding, “We had strictly been instructed by our seniors not to leave any margin for errors to avoid bitter consequences.” The cop added: “I must say that it has taken a toll on all of us as we have hardly been able to take our meals properly since past few days.” Officials said with the first day ending on a safe note, the focus shifted to the R-Day parade which is being seen as a litmus test for the security establishment.

“We have been asked to report by 3 am on Monday to take our positions for the Republic Day security,” said a police official.

In run-up to security preparations, snipers of Delhi Police and National Security Guards had been deployed at all nearby high-rise buildings guarding the convoy throughout the day. Security agencies had also sealed a few buildings in close proximity of Hyderabad House and Rajpath where Barack Obama visited. Security personnel were deployed on rooftops as well.

( Source : dc )
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