Kolkata, May 6 (IANS) Tight security was in place as US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton arrived in Kolkata Sunday, with even outbound and incoming flights from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport halted from the time her plane came on the radar till the point the former first lady and her long convoy left the tarmac.
Clinton, wearing a suit and sporting dark glasses, was escorted out along with her entourage by paramilitary Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel and US Bureau of Diplomatic Security officers.
A dummy convoy was sent half an hour before Clinton’s convoy while city police officers scanned the route well in advance. Special officers were deputed to keep away stray animals from her way.
A presidential suite with the entire floor has been reserved for her in south Kolkata’s Taj Bengal hotel where she has put up. A team of over 40 policemen including three combat teams is to remain posted around the hotel. Special arrangements have been made for the hotel staff allowed to access Clinton’s floor.
Shops in and around the hotel had been ordered to remain shut while visitors to the hotel have also been restricted, said a hotel official.
The establishments in the city where the diplomat is scheduled to visit including the state secretariat – the Writers’ Building – have been cordoned off and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers are frequenting the places to ensure fool proof security for the top US diplomat.
The Writers’ Building, a cluster of 13 four-storeyed buildings with their impressive Corinthian facade where Clinton is slated to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has been barricaded with the central gate ordered to be closed by 9 a.m. Monday, two hours before the scheduled talks.
Excepting the two leaders, all other ministers and officials will enter the building through a side gate.
Even the entry of the media has been restricted. Only photo journalists and video camerapersons will be allowed inside while the entry of reporters has been banned during the visit.
Vehicular movement, while Clinton’s convoy is on the move, has been restricted and no stationary vehicle has been allowed on the route. Divisional commissioners have been ordered to ensure the route is free from hawkers and vendors.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations auditorium where Clinton attended a cultural programme Sunday was also fortified and roads to and from the ICCR remained closed for public movement during her entire stay.
Clinton later headed for the Victoria Memorial British-era museum which was turned into a virtual fortress. Other then photo and video journalists, no media persons were allowed inside.
CCTVs, metal detectors and other surveillance gadgets have been installed at strategic places.