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Zero-tolerance security for Bush visit to India

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Feb 28: Rachetting up the bar of the cliched 'unprecedented measures', security agencies here carried out aerial surveillance of the Capital's high-security zone, including the no-fly Parliament House premises, in a first-ever move to tighten its apparatus before the visit of US President George W Bush on March 1.

Helicopters of the Indian Air Force made an aerial survey of several important places of the National Capital yesterday which included the no-fly zone of the Parliament House, Lutyen's Bungalow Zone, Rajghat and Hotel Maurya Sheraton in the Chanakyapuri area where Mr Bush is expected to stay, according to highly placed sources.

The main drill, however, was conducted at the Palam Technical Area where 'Air Force One' would be parked after its arrival tomorrow.

A team of US officials also visited some hospitals in the Capital to carry out security checks and identify measures needed to deal with emergency situations.

Checks were also carried out today at 'all the venues' President Bush would visit during his stay in the Capital, including Rajghat, sources added.

Delhi Police sources informed that two senior US embassy security officials had visited the Central Hall of the Parliament on February 20 carrying a sketch of the security arrangements made for Bill Clinton when he addressed a joint session six years ago.

Earlier, on February 22, a team of US protocol officials had arrived in Delhi to survey security arrangements here for President Bush's visit.

Along with a host of security agencies from elite forces within the country, US Secret Service agents and officials of the Homeland Security Department have been camping in the Capital for over eight weeks to ensure a smooth visit for the US President.

The sheer enormity of the security apparatus, put in place by US authorities in India for President Bush's visit, is mind boggling with more than a dozen aircraft from the US and different parts of world, besides the Air Force One aircraft in which the President travels, having been flown to New Delhi.

Accompanying them are more than 700 personnel, including American forces who have been entrusted with the 'inner-most ring' of the four-tier security set-up, of the US President during his engagements in India.

Three presidential helicopters, equipped with cutting edge landing systems that help them operate in near zero visibility, have already been put together piece by piece after their arrival through cargo carriers in a disassembled state.

For this, a special window was set up at the Delhi Airport to clear American equipment for the Presidential visit and special permissions were given for the huge quantities of arms and ammunition being flown in by the American 'advance teams.' In fact, the kind of communication equipment having landed here to fit into Bush's vehicle wouldn't look out of place in a Star Wars movie.


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