New Delhi, Jan 24: All the hard work and money spent at Agra has gone down the drain with Barack Obama cancelling his visit to the city where the Taj Mahal is housed. The decision to call off the visit comes hours before he was scheduled to leave for India to be part of the Republic Day parade and hold bi-lateral talks.
While the District Magistrate of Agra confirmed that the visit had been called off, sources say that the official reason could be because Obama wants to fly into Saudi Arabia as the country is witnessing a transition following the death of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
No security issues:
Officials who have been putting in place all security measures in Agra said that the reason for the cancellation does not appear to be security concerns. All precautions had been taken and there were 100 US security personnel in Agra who had cleared everything.
The Indians too had stationed 1000 security personnel, sanitized the highway, closed down Taj Mahal for visitors on the date of the scheduled visit apart from installing scores of CCTV cameras.
We have no official confirmation about why the event has been cancelled, an official informed oneindia. However it appears that he would want to fly into Saudi Arabia, the officer also informed.
Saudi extremely important to the US:
The US vice president Joe Biden had said that he would lead a delegation to Saudi Arabia to pay his condolences. Many in the US feel that considering the strategic importance of Saudi Arabia for the US, even the President ought to make a visit to the country.
Apart from several economical interests, the US has always termed Saudi Arabia as a very important ally in combating terror. It is indebted to Saudi Arabia which had helped foil two major attacks on American interests back in 2010.
Crores down the drain:
Although there is a great deal of disappointment among the officials who have worked tirelessly to put the security mechanism in place at Agra, they also point out that these are normal during the visits of such high profile dignitaries.
The US President in particular has commitments world wide and plans have been changed in the past due to sudden engagements cropping up. The security agencies had worked overtime to ensure that Agra turned into a fortress.
While several crores of rupees had been spent on enhancing security, the no fly zone radius was also enhanced from 300 kilometres to 400 kilometres this year. The no-fly zone had covered cities such as Agra and Jaipur also.
In addition to this there was also a great deal of inconvinience caused to the residents of Agra. They were unable to move around freely and were under constant check. Movement of vehicles had also been restricted a great deal.