Delhiites were exposed to unprecedented levels of security on Sunday, when US President Barack Obama landed ahead of his three-day visit. Walls of white sheets and parked buses lined the road leading from the airport to ITC Maurya, where Obama and his massive entourage are staying, all to keep the Beast and the other 80 vehicles in the presidential cavalcade away from prying eyes and shutterbugs.
However, at Obama’s formal reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan around noon, the multiple layers of security were clearly inadequate to keep out a stray dog that broke through the cordon and ambled down the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, giving a taste of the real India to the visiting American delegation.
Watch: Stray dog breaches security just before Obama's Guard of Honour
Officials made little effort to stop the light brown dog who seemed to be at ease within the precincts of the president’s house. Photographers had a great time capturing shots from all directions.
Earlier in the day, white sheets were used to block a view of the ridge from the route the US president was taking from the airport to his hotel on Sardar Patel Marg making it difficult for people to view the motorcade.
The entry to Sardar Patel Marg was blocked at Dhaula Kuan, Teen Murti Marg and other entry points throughout the day. The ridge itsellf had been sanitized hours before Obama arrived.
About 80-100 vehicles followed Obama’s car from the time it left the airport for the hotel at around 10 am. Numerous SUVs from the security unit, which were used as escort vehicles, then led the convoy to Rashtrapati Bhavan at around noon for the formal reception, where Obama inspected a guard of honour. At the tail end of the convoy, armed police personnel were on chartered buses to deal with any untoward situation.
A police team near the ITC Maurya along with private security guards screened all employees going in and checked them against a list provided by the hotel earlier. No employee was allowed to enter without a valid identity card.
It is learnt that the US security agencies used at least 7-8 dogs inside the hotel to sanitise the premises and allowed only their officers on the fourteenth floor where Obama is staying. The Presidential suite, home to Obama for the next three days is bullet proof. Other parts of the hotel, including the lift and staircases were guarded by senior Delhi police officers.
Security officials remained posted at the hotel throughout the day as the First Lady Michelle Obama is learnt to have stayed in the room for a large part of the day.
More than 20,000 police officers, drawn from Delhi Police and paramilitary forces were on duty guarding the route and the India Gate lawns from where Obama’s convoy passed enroute to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Police made use of the 15,000 cameras installed for the Republic Day function to monitor every activity around the President’s convoy. The control rooms at several locations were monitored by Delhi Police officers and those from the US Secret Service.