34 warships sent from US to India for Obama visit
New Delhi: The White House will, of course, stay in Washington but the heart of the famous building will move to India when President Barack Obama lands in Mumbai on Saturday.
Communications set-up and nuclear button and majority of the White House staff will be in India accompanying the President on this three-day visit that will cover Mumbai and Delhi.
He will also be protected by a fleet of 34 warships, including an aircraft carrier, which will patrol the sea lanes off the Mumbai coast during his two-day stay there beginning Saturday. The measure has been taken as Mumbai attack in 2008 took place from the sea.
Arrangements have been put in place for emergency evacuation, if needed.
Obama is expected to fly by a helicopter — Marine One — from the city airport to the Indian Navy’s helibase INS Shikra at Colaba in south Mumbai.
Two jets, armed with advanced communication and security systems, and a fleet of over 40 cars will be part of Obama’s convoy.
Around 800 rooms have been booked for the President and his entourage in Taj Hotel and Hyatt.
The President will have a security ring of American elite Secret Service, which are tasked to guard the President, along with National Security Guards (NSG) and personnel from central paramilitary forces and local police in Mumbai and Delhi.
Similar arrangements will be in place in Delhi, with the Air Force One to be kept in all readiness throughout Obama’s stay here from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning.
Maurya Hotel, where the President will stay, has already been swarmed by American security personnel and protective measures have been put in place.
Security drills have already been carried out at the hotel as well as Rajghat, where he will visit.
Sources said 13 heavy-lift aircraft with high-tech equipment, three helicopters and 500 US security personnel have arrived in India ahead of Obama’s visit.
The US security has also brought interception and obstruction device, sniffer dogs, rescue gadgets.
Apart from Obama’s Air Force One, a few private luxury jets carrying top American corporate leaders, who are part of Obama’s entourage, are also expected to arrive in India in the next 2-3 days.
All high-rise buildings in the vicinity of Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel and Delhi’s Maurya Sheraton hotel, where the US President will stay, are being sanitised and security personnel will be positioned on rooftops to prevent any air-borne attack.
The Ridge area – opposite Delhi’s Maurya Sheraton hotel – has been illuminated by floodlights as part of the heightened security drill.
The Home Ministry has already issued an alert for Mumbai and Delhi asking authorities to take extra precautions during Obama’s visit as well as on Diwali on Friday.