‘Invisible’ security grid for U.S. President

January 19, 2015 02:05 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:55 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

At least four hotels in and around the heart of the capital have been partially booked and more are being reserved to create an “invisible” security grid for U.S. President Barack Obama, who will land here the coming Sunday. Mr. Obama will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebration here.

While a White House team will travel with him, the first layer of officials in charge of Mr. Obama’s hospitality will be from the U.S. Embassy here. An advance team of 25 to 30 officials, who accompanied U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Ahmedabad last week, has been preparing the ground for Mr. Obama’s visit and conducting joint exercises with security agencies and the police from Tuesday.

More eyes in the sky, fewer boots on the ground for Obama visit

Security arrangements for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit here from the coming Sunday revolve around ensuring that his whereabouts and movements draw the least attention, sources say.

This, a source says, is where a subtle security grid comes in. The hotels being booked are within a yet-to-be-specified radius in the New Delhi area with adjacent areas having already been sanitised by Indian and U.S. intelligence agencies.

“The latest communication shared with us by the government stated that his precise schedule will become available latest by Tuesday as they [U.S. authorities] are currently busy with his annual State of the Union Address,” an intelligence official told The Hindu.

Another source says that while emphasis is on ensuring that Mr. Obama’s contingent “is mostly on the move at odd hours,” this will take place on an exclusive emergency corridor within the security grid, which has been under surveillance, both electronically and physically, since last week.

“As far as we are concerned, Indian agencies will, more or less, act as facilitators for their U.S. counterparts who compose the major chunk of the security blanket,” an official says. “Our joint endeavour, however, is for more eyes in the sky and fewer boots on the ground.”

Central intelligence agencies are watching out for seven Jamat-Ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh terrorists tasked with executing a terror bid here. The group, a source said, has been on their radar since mid-December on an input from their counterparts in Bangladesh that the group had travelled from Dhaka to Syria to participate in a month-long daura-e-aam or basic military training course organised by the Islamic State. “The group travelled to Saudi Arabia and took a flight to Dhaka from the King Fahd International Airport in the eastern region of Dammam in the first week of January,” an official said.

“Its members slipped off the radar after having landed in Dhaka and might try to slip into the country via Kolkata,” the official said.

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