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A fierce debate took place in the security establishment before Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s request to visit Jama Masjid and Red Fort was acceded to, sources told HT.
Sharif had come to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26 and he wanted to visit few places in the national capital the next morning before his one-to-one meeting with the Indian PM.
"Sharif’s original plan was to visit the Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah in South Delhi. All arrangements were made but the programme was changed and the visiting PM decided to go to old Delhi. Everyone looked at the Delhi police as it was the lead agency to make arrangements for the visit according to changed plans at a short notice but holding their nerves the city police managed the show without any hiccup," said a security source.
The official added that in normal course the city police requires at least 24 hours to clear the area around Jama Masjid for a visit of this kind but this time they didn’t get much time as the plan could be firmed only at 8pm on May 26.
Four places — Jama Masjid, the famous Karim eatery nearby, Chandni Chowk and the Red Fort — were on Sharif’s itinerary but then it was pruned down to two places only.
“At Red Fort, Sharif, while looking at the alterations made in the historical structure by the Britishers, learnt to have commented, “Angrezo ne isko bhi nahi choda (the English didn’t even leave this place),” said the official.
Besides visiting Jama Masjid and Red Fort, Sharif also met three Bollywood stars and BJP members — Hema Malini, her husband Dharmendra and Shatrughan Sinha.