During his five-day long US visit last week, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee received a tighter security cover by the US homeland security as it assessed threats from Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) and Lashkar-e-Toiba supporters against him.
Mukherjee, who enjoys a Z-plus category security cover inside the country, didn’t take any security officer with him to the US. His entire security, in New York and Washington DC, was provided by the Americans.
“I am told that there are some threat perceptions from Huji (Bangladesh) and a Pakistan-supported organisation. They informed me about my enhanced security arrangements,” Mukherjee told HT during his return flight to New Delhi on Monday.
Sources in Mukherjee’s office told HT that the US homeland security provided additional officers and vehicles for Mukherjee. It also sanitised a larger area around the minister.
As the US officials didn’t want to take any chance, even top Indian officials were denied free access to the minister. On one occasion at Washington DC, India’s executive director to World Bank, Pulok Chatterjee, was asked to take a different elevator. Economic affairs secretary R Gopalan too, was stopped from entering Mukherjee’s room.
Before Mukherjee held his press conference in New York, his officials had to take permission and abide by several conditions of US homeland security. The US security agency made it clear that it would not allow any impromptu press interaction on the hotel corridor or outside. Mukherjee finally held the press conference in his hotel room.