Mumbai turns into fortress for Obama visit

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 05, 2010 13:39 hrs

Mumbai: Mumbai has turned into a fortress as security personnel today took their positions with a massive three dimensional security-- land, air and water-- put in place for the US President Barack Obama's two day visit beginning from tomorrow.

Nearly 5,000 security personnel, including US security men, Indian Intelligence officials and elite commandos have been deployed in south Mumbai alone as all venues on the itinerary of the POTUS fall in this region, police said.

"The security system is in place. All security personnel took their positions today itself. Till the time Obama leaves the city, every policeman would follow the instructions issued to them," said Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations) Rajkumar Vatkar.

Yesterday, a large scale rehearsal by US and Indian personnel including gun-toting NSG and Force One commandos was carried out at the venues Obama would visit and the routes his convoy would take, Vatkar said adding the US choppers had also surveyed the sea shore.

Indian Navy and Coast guard officials have stationed their ships off the shores of Mumbai to secure the coastline even as the warships including US Navy's Peleliu, an amphibious assault ship, carrying choppers, are in Indian waters off the Mumbai harbour, police said.

A massive convoy of Presidential vehicles have been brought here in aircrafts, police said.

The Peleliu usually carries AV-8B Harrier attack planes, AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, and UH-1N Huey helicopters, the officials added.

According to the final itinerary available with Mumbai Police, Air Force One is scheduled to land at the airport at 12 pm on November 6, following which Obama will fly to INS Shikra in a chopper, before moving on to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. He is expected to leave Mumbai at 1.30 pm the next day.

The Gateway of India sea front was sanitised from today till three days and all the services of the boats have been suspended and anchored at nearby Bhaucha Dhakka.

The Navy and Air Force have intensified patrolling along the Mumbai coastline and its airspace during Obama's stay. The city's airspace will be closed half-an-hour before the President's arrival for all aircraft barring those carrying the US delegation, police said.

Eleven roads close to the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel, where Obama will be staying during his visit, will remain closed from Saturday 0600 hours till 1600 hours the next day, police said.

Bursting of fire crackers was not allowed around the Taj and other areas categorised as restricted ones for the high-profile visit, police said.

The area from Taj to Shikra helipad would be cordoned off completely during the movement of the President.

The roads to be used for the President's convoy, will not be available for regular vehicular movements till the time the entourage passes off.

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