Monday, 19 January 2015

Barack Obama's Agra trip Plan B: Reach city of Taj by 'unspecified' road.............

NEW DELHI: An unspecified Delhi-Agra road will be sanitized and secured as an emergency backup for US President Barack Obama's visit to the Taj Mahal, in the event of his jet failing to take off due to bad weather or any other reason. 

However, this emergency measure will kick in only an hour or so ahead of his scheduled departure by air. The highway will then be closed to normal traffic and security personnel will line up the highway to bar access to the highway well before Obama's convoy hits the gravel. 

Though there has been no terror alert from either the US, or the Indian agencies in the past one week - the last warning of a terror attack on a national highway was recently scaled down - the agencies are wary that with terrorists waiting to infiltrate at 8-9 launchpads across the LoC/international border adjoining Jammu & Kashmir, there could be a possible terror strike in the Valley state. It may be recalled that during the then US President Bill Clinton's visit to India in 2000, suspected Lashker-e-Taiba militants had massacred 36 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura village in Anantnag district of Jammu & Kashmir. 

Meanwhile, some of the measures being taken for Obama's security may include his arrival for the Republic Day parade in a separate car. This will be a departure from the convention that requires the chief guest to arrive with the Indian President in the latter's car. Senior officers of the security establishment recalled that such an arrangement was undertaken even when Russian President Vladimir Putin was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 2007. 

Government offices in the vicinity of Rajpath - including Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block, South Block, Shastri Bhavan, Krishi Bhavan, Rail Bhavan, etc — will shut down early at 13.00 pm on January 25. A senior officer involved in the security arrangements said around half a dozen anti-aircraft guns will be deployed in vicinity of the parade area. Also, around 20-21 sniper rifles are likely to be in position on January 26. 

Among the issues sought to be included by the Union home ministry in the agenda of talks during Obama's visit are sharing of information on each other's terror list and a pact envisaging cooperation in tackling fake Indian currency notes (FICN).

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