|HOME | NEWS | REPORT|
March 13, 2000
Clinton's security takes over New Delhi
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
Unprecedented security and a high level of secrecy mark the preparations for US President Bill Clinton's visit to the Capital next week.
The only certainty, as of now, is that the Indian security agencies would be learning several lessons as their American counterparts descend on Delhi with gizmos and a multi-layered protection detail for the world's most powerful man.
According to indications so far, Hotel Maurya Sheraton -- a five-star deluxe hotel about 10 km from the technical area of the Indira Gandhi International Airport where Clinton would land, and almost equidistant from Parliament House -- would be hosting the President.
According to information with the Indian security agencies, Clinton is expected to check into the Chandragupta suite of the hotel, where his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea stayed during their visit to India. With Hillary busy with her election to the Senate, only Chelsea is expected to accompany Clinton.
American security personnel have already taken over Maurya Sheraton, blocking off the entire hotel except the ground floor to the public. All rooms have been vacated. Even business magnates and corporate houses with permanent rooms in the hotel have been checked out.
Short of peeling off the wall plaster, the security personnel have carried out massive security redesign within the hotel, and have installed close circuit cameras, sensors, and other gadgets which are quite novel to the Indian security set-up. The buzz among local reporters is that there is also equipment that will enable the monitoring of any conversation within a 3-km radius, but this could not be confirmed.
Over 400 rooms are being readied for the presidential entourage. Even as Indian security sources say they have been told that Clinton would be staying in the Chandragupta suite, there are media reports that he may just as well check into another place. About 2,400 hotel rooms in Delhi's premier hotels have thus been booked for the five-day presidential visit, and locations such as the Rashtrapati Bhavan, American Embassy and Roosevelt House are all being sanitised by the security agencies.
The Maurya suite was recently renovated to shift a kitchen from the entrance to the rear and to add a third bedroom. The suite has a big drawing-cum-dining room, and office space. The balcony opens into a beautiful garden.
Besides, the suite boasts of a private bar and a guest library.
On the left side, there is another room for security personnel who could frisk and vet visitors.
Several truck-loads of security gadgets have already been offloaded at Maurya. And these days, sniffer dogs and poker-faced American security personnel have the run of the hotel.
At the airport, sources said, Clinton's Air Force-I (a Boeing) would be accompanied by yet another plane of the same make. According to indications, the Clinton entourage would have two helicopters for emergency.
In several rounds of meetings between the American and Indian security personnel, the latter have been requested to sanitise routes and assist the former in their task. In effect, the Indian personnel will be standing by, watching the Americans go about their job.
"There is a lot we can learn from them," remarked a senior Indian Police Service officer who is involved in the security arrangements.
Almost the entire strength of the Delhi police, numbering over 50,000, is expected to be on duty during the visit, sanitising the routes that he would be taking. According to present indications, his road journeys in the Capital would be limited to the New Delhi area.
The Red Fort, thus, has been ruled out for his visit.
SINGLES | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | MILLENNIUM | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK