After US President Barack Obama failed to keep a date with the holy city during his visit to India in 2011, his close friend, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is set to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple here on Wednesday.
Cameron will be the first ever democratically elected head of the British government to bow his head at the Harmandar Sahib. His country's titular head, Queen Elizabeth-II, had visited the Golden Temple about 15 years back.
After the Golden Temple, Cameron will lay a wreath at the historic Jallianwala Bagh.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is elated over finding Amritsar in the itinerary of Cameron during his brief stay in India. The SGPC is all geared up to receive the dignitary.
“We are happy that Cameron has chosen Amritsar. The visit will certainly send a positive message to the Sikh community worldwide. The message will be stronger in England and its neighbouring countries,” SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said when asked to comment on the visit.
He said that Cameron will be accorded a warm welcome and he himself will be receiving him outside the Golden Temple.
“He will be honoured as per the 'maryada' of the holy place. He will be presented a 'siropa',” said Makkar. The SGPC chief will be here on Tuesday to review the arrangements being made at the shrine for Cameron's visit. The information office of the Golden Temple, where Cameron will be honoured, has been spruced up.
Keeping in mind the high profile visit, the city is all set to be turned into a fortress for the next couple of days. On Monday, a security team from the UK, along with Amritsar deputy commissioner Rajat Aggarwal and police commissioner Ram Singh, visited all the locations where the dignitary is scheduled to visit. A top police official confirmed to HT that around 3,000 cops will be deployed in the city for the visit. The police officers and force from at least half a dozen districts will be put on the job. The security arrangements will be headed by different police districts at various locations.
The municipal corporation authorities swung into action on Monday to clean the locations the British PM will visit. The MC men were seen sweeping the roads and lifting garbage around a private rice unit. Fogging was also done to keep the mosquitoes away. Municipal corporation commissioner BS Rai said, “There was a heap of garbage near the rice unit, which was cleaned.”
To visit rice-manufacturing unit
Cameron, along with his business delegation, will also visit a rice-manufacturing unit situated near the local Chatiwind chowk. The unit produces Lal Qila brand of basmati, which is very famous in UK. Security arrangements have been made in and around the unit.
All engagements before noon
As per the tentative schedule, officials that the British PM and his business delegation will land at the local airport at 9:15 am on Wednesday. From the airport, the PM will head for Golden Temple and then visit Jallianwala Bagh. After this, at around 10: 30, the PM will visit the rice-manufacturing unit.