US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle will be extremely busy in Mumbai, upon landing on November 6 for a two day India visit. As the world’s most powerful man and his wife zip around the city visiting the 26/11 memorial on Marine Drive, the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mani Bhawan and other locations in south Mumbai, the security obviously will be water-tight .
Adding to the Obamas’ busy schedule is Michelle’s likely visit to Kamathipura, where she will meet commercial sex workers on the invitation of an NGO. The highprofile visit is likely to inconvenience the citizens, as there could be a complete clampdown on traffic on some main roads of south Mumbai and sanitisation of buildings flanking them.
The Obamas will stay at the Taj Mahal Hotel, and his itinerary practically means Marine Drive will be shut for vehicular traffic on the day of the President’s visit, while buildings flanking it will be sanitised with security personnel manning them until Obama has left the place. Same would be the case with Obama’s visit to Mani Bhawan and Michelle going to Kamathipura.
An officer with the security establishment said, “Several other arterial roads in south Mumbai will also see restricted traffic movement, with tight security all around. The Obamas are not expected to schedule any engagements in the night due to security reasons.”
Since Obama is expected to arrive in the afternoon on November 6, and will travel by road to the Taj Mahal Hotel, the entire stretch from airport to the hotel will be under heavy security. The officer said, “There will be no vehicular movement on Western Express Highway at that time. Traffic on roads leading up to the highway will also be stopped. All buildings flanking the entire stretch will be sanitised. However, there is no threat from the snipers as the President will travel in a bullet-proof car with 4.5-inch thick sheets, which are impenetrable for any gun.”
Obama’s personal security staff itself will be huge, and it has already started making its own arrangements in Mumbai. “A team of secret service agents has already arrived, and has surveyed the areas of his stay and the roads and places on his itinerary,” the officer said.
To ensure fool-proof security, the President’s team has booked the entire the Taj Mahal Hotel, including 570 rooms, all banquets and restaurants. Since his security contingent and staff will comprise a huge number, 125 rooms at Taj President have also been booked, apart from 80 to 90 rooms each in Grand Hyatt and The Oberoi hotels. The NCPA, where the President is expected to meet representatives from the business community, has also been entirely booked.
The officer said, “Obama’s contingent is huge. There are two jumbo jets coming along with Air Force One, which will be flanked by security jets. There will be 30 to 40 secret service agents, who will arrive before him. The President’s convoy has 45 cars, including the Lincoln Continental in which the President travels.”
Since Obama will stay in a hotel that is on sea front, elaborate coastal security arrangements have been made by the US Navy in consonance with the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. “There will be US naval ships, along with Indian vessels , patrolling the sea till about 330-km from the shore. This is to negate the possibility of a missile being fired from a distance,” the officer said.
The President will be accompanied by his chefs, not because he would not like to savour Indian cuisine, but to ensure his food is not spiked.
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to land in Mumbai on November 6.