Number of closed circuit cameras for Obama visit: 15,000. No typo that!
US President Barack Obama will be in town as the chief guest of India’s 66th Republic Day parade. The first US President to visit India twice during a presidency. He had visited India earlier in 2010.
In the wake of any US President’s visit comes the heightened, almost paranoid, security. This usually cause a tug-of-war between the president’s security and the host country.
The forthcoming visit is no different. With the visit just a week away, we already have a list of blazing controversies surrounding the event. We bring you the menu.
US demand for a no-fly zone declined
With the flypast and air-show an important part of Republic Day celebrations, India declined the US Secret Service’s demand for a no-fly zone over Rajpath for the duration of the parade.
The beauty or the ‘beast’
Tradition has it that the chief guest at the ceremony travels to the venue in the car of the Indian president from Rashtrapathi Bhawan. However, the US President always travels on the road in the Presidential ‘beast’ – a highly-secured bullet-proof limousine.
If Obama chooses tradition over security, he will become the first US President to ditch the beast for the beauty – the Indian president’s limousine.
A parade too long
The US secret service also expressed their apprehension over the length of the celebrations. the maximum time for an outdoor public event in which a US President participates is about 45 minutes — the length of the Presidential inauguration. In contrast, the Republic Day function might extend beyond two hours. The Americans wanted it curtailed but declined by India as it is an event dictated governed by a 65-year-old tradition.
15,000 eyes installed!
Reports have it that on the insistence of the US side more than 15,000 closed circuit cameras have been installed in the capital ahead of the visit.
This provoked the Delhi High Court to say, “Because of a foreign president, you do it, but not for Indian citizens. If we direct you to do it for Indians, you do in months and years, else you do it in weeks. Let’s get someone from outer space,” the bench of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva remarked.
A sea of Khaki
New Delhi will be a veritable fortress with 80,000 Delhi Police personnel, accompanied by 20,000 paramilitary forces, manning very plausible vantage point. Plus, of course, the 500 US secret service agents.
The result will be a city under siege and the adversely impact citizens’ movement in the national capital.ii
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