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A bigger threat to Bush than Osama?
George Iype in Hyderabad | March 02, 2006 18:37 IST
It happens only in Hyderabad, you could say.
United States President George W Bush's security personnel have a bigger cause for worry than Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.
Yes, outlawed Maoist militants -- better known as the Naxals -- are the biggest security threat for the American President's visit to Hyderabad, due on Friday.
President Bush has only two programmes spanning four hours in Hyderabad; but the state police and the US security personnel have turned the city into a fortress.
The main reason for the security blanket are the Naxals, who claim they are fighting for the cause of poor, landless farmers.
In the last three decades, Naxal violence in Andhra Pradesh has claimed 7,000 lives, second only to the terrorist bloodlust in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the original Bush visit plan, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy wanted the American President to travel to a village -- in Mahbubnagar district -- on the outskirts of Hyderabad to see firsthand the thrift programme for women's empowerment.
Eight million women are enrolled in half-a-million self-help groups under this poverty reduction programme. Under the scheme, each woman member saves Re 1 every day of the year and the government gives a matching grant for starting self-employment ventures.
Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Minister N Raghuveera Reddy says the state government wanted Bush to visit a village to witness the strides that the innovative women's programme has achieved in the state.
But the US security forces rejected the programme citing security reasons.
"Yes, we agree that security restrictions forced President Bush to avoid driving to a village," Reddy admitted.
The state government will now instead showcase the project to Bush when he visits the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University.
Meanwhile, the Maoist guerrillas are gearing up to organise protests across the state as Bush lands in the state.
'Bush is a symbol of dictatorship all over the world and he should not be allowed to enter a democratic region,' a statement from the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist said.
Several Communist parties and Islamic groups will also join the Naxals in protesting Bush's Andhra Pradesh visit.