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Unobtrusive security at AIIMS

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s lookalike and well-wisher Gurmeet Singh at the AIIMS in New Delhi on Saturday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s lookalike and well-wisher Gurmeet Singh at the AIIMS in New Delhi on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: PTI/ Subhav Shukla

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

NEW DELHI: The Cardio Neuro Centre building and surrounding blocks at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences here were turned into a virtual fortress as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underwent a bypass surgery at the hospital on Saturday.

Security was tightened and only one attendant was allowed per patient during the day with all ‘extras’ being asked to wait outside the building. However, care was taken to see that patients or their attendants were not harassed. All those entering the building were issued identity cards.

None of the attendants spoken to complained of any harassment because of the heavy security. “We were not stopped when we entered the main building but our cards were checked when we entered the cardio thoracic building. The security is much higher but we understand that it is required because the Prime Minister is here. We have been given specific instructions to stay within the waiting room and not stray outside,” said Rita Kumari, whose 17-year-old daughter is getting operated on for brain tumour.

Sitting outside near the main gate of the hospital, Sangeetha Anand, whose relative is admitted to the eye casualty ward, said this was the first time she saw such heavy security at the AIIMS.

“We hear that the Prime Minister has had a successful heart surgery. This hospital has shown that in India there are still health centres where the poorest of the poor and the Prime Minister are attended to with equal dedication. We wish the Prime Minister speedy recovery,” she said.

Several people, however, were unaware of the presence of Dr. Singh on the premises. “We got to know that the Prime Minister was here only when we saw all television crew and then we came to see the building in which he was undergoing treatment. I have never seen so many police vehicles and policemen together in a hospital before,” said Hemant Kumar from Uttar Pradesh, who is here with his father undergoing treatment for cancer.

The attendants and the media crew had a ‘minor shock’ when a Dr. Singh lookalike, dressed in a crisp white pyjama-kurta, Nehru jacket and blue turban, walked into the main hospital campus area.

“I have come to wish my Prime Minister speedy recovery,” said Gurmeet Singh, who claimed to be a Congress worker. “I was not allowed to meet the Prime Minister by his security but was told that I could note down my wishes in the visitors’ book which would be forwarded to him later.”

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