The Maharashtra police heroes, who fought during the 26/11 terror attacks, may miss out on an opportunity to shake hands with US President Barack Obama. The US consulate authorities had extended invitations to police officials, who were at the forefront during the attacks, to meet Obama at a function in Taj hotel.
However, the state government and top police brass are not keen on having the function, as the US consulate had turned down a request to organise a function to pay tribute to 26/11 martyrs and victims at the police gymkhana at Marine Drive.
“The US authorities had asked if our policemen could come in uniforms to meet the President. We are not keen, as they refused our request of having a tribute at the police memorial at Marine Drive,’’ said a senior official, who did not wish to be named.
According to sources, the final call on whether police officials can go or not rests with home minister RR Patil, who has also got an invite to the function and is likely to attend.
The government was keen on having the tribute function at an open venue instead of Taj gardens, which officials thought was too elitist. Even the police felt strongly about the memorial. They argued that the Taj function was not inclusive enough to represent all the victims, martyrs and people of the city, who braved the terror attacks.
“I did get an invite, but I will not be able to attend the function as we are responsible for the security of the US President in the city and will have to be in a state of alert,’’ said a police official, who was praised for his bravery during the terror attacks.
According to US authorities, the President chose Taj to pay tribute to the resilience of Indians and also underscore a shared commitment between the two countries to counter terrorism, as Taj was at the centrestage of the terrorist attacks.
Christine Dal Bello, public affairs officer with US consulate said, “We are not commenting on the President’s schedule.’’