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Rajghat cordoned off for Bush visit

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
February 27, 2006 10:17 IST
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Seventy two hours before George W Bush Jr arrives in India, the United States Secret Service -- which protects the American President -- has cordoned off Rajghat.

Bush is expected to plant a tree next to the mango tree planted by his father George W Bush, then the American vice-president, at Mahatma Gandhi's samadhi in 1984.

Rajghat Caretaker Rajneesh Kumar is supervising over thirty gardeners who have been assigned to ensure that the venue is clean when Bush visits the memorial of the Father of the Nation.

Traffic in many areas in the capital will come to a near standstill on March 2 when Bush travels to his engagemments from the Maurya Sheraton hotel to Hyderabad House, where he will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Rashtrapati Bhavan, where President A P J Abdul Kalam will host a dinner for his American counterpart.

Traffic is also likely to be affected by the proposed demonstrations against the Bush visit planned by the Communists, the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal-Secular.

The Maurya Sheraton, where Bush and his entourage will stay, has been converted into a fortress with the US Secret Service screening every visitor.

Hotel employees have been issued special passes, which have to be produced along with their identity cards when they arrive on duty.

The US Secret Service, the American Federal Bureau of Investigation and Indian security personnel will establish a three ring security cordon around the hotel.

The outer ring will be manned by the Delhi police, the second ring by India's Intelligence Bureau and the FBI. The inner cordon will be left to the Secret Service.

The Delhi police will install barricades to check any vehicle trying to block the presidential motorcade. Helicopers may be pressed into service in the event of an emergency.

American intelligence officials are said to be monitoring telephone conversations to detect any information about a threat to Bush from any quarter including Islamic terrorists.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi