ITC Maurya taken over by US security

November 4th, 2010 - 9:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) Seventytwo hours before US President Barack Obama reaches Delhi, the ITC Maurya Sheraton hotel which will host him has been literally taken over by US security officials.

Around 50 white colour Toyota Camrys, Honda Accords and mini vans, some hired and others with the blue diplomatic number plates of the US embassy were parked in an exclusive parking lot in front of the hotel lobby.

“These cars are used by American officials to travel from the hotel to the embassy and back. Entry of private vehicles inside the lot is absolutely barred,” a valet attendant who did not wished to be named told IANS.

With police personnel patrolling the lawns outside the hotel on foot and police van with armed commandos stationed on both sides of the main gate, the seriousness of the atmosphere was palpable.

A guard at the main entrance gate had an electronic hand-held RDX detector which replaced the under vehicle inspection mirrors used as recently as last week to detect hidden bombs.

“We use this device for checking if any car is carrying RDX. We got these a couple of days back specially for the Obama visit,” said the guard.

A rare sight at the alighting point outside the main entrance door was a Mercedes van with ‘Delhi Police Security’ painted on its rear door.

“This is a mobile x-ray van and has been specially brought here for the Obama visit. It will start operating as soon as he checks into the hotel,” said a guard pointing to the vehicle parked next to the embassy officials’ cars.

Apart from the hotel staff, around 10 to 15 men sporting safari suits were spread across the hotel premises.

“They are Delhi Police personnel in civil dress. They have been here since morning,” added the guard.

Inside the hotel, the ground floor is the only area accessible to the general public. All the rooms in the five-star hotel have been booked by the US embassy.

All the restaurants, shops and cafes in the hotel are still open for the general public.

“I’ve heard that the hotel would be completely cordoned off by Sunday morning,” said the guard.

Obama visits India Nov 6-9, arriving first in Mumbai. He will reach Delhi Saturday and stay at the hotel’s Presidential Suite.

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