With protests against the Delhi bus gangrape expected to engulf India Gate and the adjoining areas for the third straight day, the venue of Monday's meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been shifted.
Officers said it was rare for such a high level meeting to take place at the Prime Minister's residence on Race Course Road instead of the stately Hyderabad House, the place for almost all high level interactions with visiting dignatories. The change of venue has led to restrictions on the number of media personnel to the agreements signing ceremony in the presence of the two leaders.
The initial media advisory from the Ministry of External Affairs had invited the entire media including print and TV journalists to Hyderabad House for the agreement signing ceremony which was to be followed by statements to be read out by Dr. Singh and Mr. Putin. No questions are allowed nor any answers expected in this format.
But a fresh media in the morning restricted entry to the audio-visual media due to "paucity of space'' at the Prime Minister's residence. Even these do not have a carte blanche invitation and are being informed ``separately'', said the fresh advisory.
An official did not want to comment on the invitation being withdrawn to journalists but on the shifting of the venue said the India-Russia summit meeting at Hyderabad House meant certain security restrictions in an area where people have been gathering in numbers and battling the police.
However, after the meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr. Putin will drive down to Rashtrapati Bhavan to call on President Pranab Mukherjee, he pointed out.
Some civil society organisations have used the social media to urge a third day of protests on Rajpath, the boulevard linking India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhavan with the Central Government's power centres of South Block and South Block on either side. Journalist organisations too plan to gather in the afternoon on the issue of some of their own having been injured on Sunday when protestors battled the police around India Gate.
Mr. Putin, in his third term as President of Russia, is here for a day long official visit that has meant fewer protocol related headaches apart from the meeting with Dr. Singh. Had he come on a state visit, he would have been obliged to travel to Rajghat, which would have meant securing the route across a substantial portion of Delhi.