Varanasi spruced up for PM, security tightened

March 14th, 2008 - 2:32 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Varanasi, March 14 (IANS) This ancient holy city has been spruced up and unprecedented security has turned large parts of it into an impregnable fortress as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives here for a two-day visit later Friday. While the whole city has been cleaned up, special care has been taken at the Benaras Hindu University (BHU), the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Dasashwamedh Ghat on the banks of the Ganga - places Singh is scheduled to visit.

The prime minister is expected to land at Varanasi’s Babatpur airport at 4.30 p.m. He will go by helicopter to the BHU campus from where he will be driven to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. After praying there, he is expected to stop at the adjoining Gyanvapi mosque.

He is scheduled to go to the Dasashwamedh Ghat to participate in the evening aarti after which he will get back to the BHU campus for the night.

The prime minister will attend the university’s 90th convocation Saturday.

Armed policemen have been stationed at every few metres and Varanasi Commissioner Nitin Gokaran said extra care had been taken to ensure that the otherwise filthy ghats were absolutely spick and span.

Senior Superintendent of Police S.B. Shiradkar said stringent security measures would be in place until Singh left Saturday afternoon.

“Even ambulances will not be permitted on the route to be used by the prime minister well before his arrival,” he said.

Admitting that the measures would cause much inconvenience to people, he said: “Well it is beyond our control as security had to be beefed up to an unprecedented level essentially because of the two blasts in the town last year”.

Snipers have been deployed at all strategic points while army minesweepers and sniffer dogs have been pressed into service at all places on the prime minister’s itinerary.

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