West Bengal gets ready for PM’s visit

December 5th, 2008 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghKolkata, Dec 5 (IANS) A thick security blanket has been thrown over Kolkata and the districts of West Bengal in view of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s two-day trip to the state beginning Saturday.The prime minister is scheduled to attend the convocation of the Visva Bharati university at Santiniketan in Birbhum district Saturday and lay the foundation stone of a technical institute named after the late Congress leader A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury in Malda district Sunday.

“Security has been intensified across the state. The police are continuously interacting with central security teams that have come to Calcutta to oversee preparations,” West Bengal Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS.

He said all entry and exit points of Kolkata, the state capital, are being thoroughly monitored and vigil in the adjoining districts - Howrah, North and South 24-Parganas - has been tightened.

The prime minister will arrive at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport Saturday morning and head for Santiniketan to attend the convocation of Visva Bharati, of which he is the chancellor.

After the programme, Manmohan Singh will fly back to Kolkata late in the evening and spend the night at Raj Bhavan.

On Sunday morning, a helicopter will fly the prime minister will fly off in a helicopter for Malda. Singh is also slated to visit Ghani Khan’s residence at Kotwali in Malda.

After this, Manmohan Singh will go to Purnea, from where he will leave for Delhi.

“The state police are constantly keeping the central detective agencies posted about the security arrangements,” a senior state police official said.

The sylvan surroundings of the Visva Bharati campus have been literally overtaken by security personnel since Thursday morning when Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel reached Santiniketan.

Inspector General of Police (western range) Kuldip Singh Thursday reviewed the security measures along with SPG officers.

Police camps have been set up on all roads in Bolpur town leading to the university campus, and security personnel are taking down the registration numbers of every vehicle passing along the roads.

The helipad at Santiniketan has been cordoned off by security forces. Sniffer dogs have been pressed into service, and the bomb squad is also on the job at the convocation venue - Amrakunja - as also the guest house where the prime minister would hold a meeting with the university faculty.

According to Visva Bharati sources, the prime minister will confer the ‘Deshikottama’, the highest award of the university, on six eminent personalities.

Those getting the award are eminent economist and former Visva Bharati vice-chancellor Amlan Dutta, noted development economist Jean Dreze, scientist R. Narasimha, theatre personality Habib Tanvir, historian Irfan Habib and peace activist Debi Prasad.

Noted painter-sculptor-muralist K.G. Subramanyam will be given the Gagan-Aban Puraskar at the convocation.

Santiniketan (abode of peace) was initially a hermitage set up by Maharishi Devendranath Tagore in 1863. His son, Nobel laureate and poet Rabindranath Tagore later chose the site for realising the education centre of his dreams.

Rabindranath began his experiment with a tiny class of five students in 1901, and Santiniketan gradually evolved into the Visva Bharati university.

The range of studies available in the university is wide with an emphasis on arts, music, dance and the humanities.

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