AGRA (TIP): Pointing out a string of security lapses during Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid’s visit to India last December, Dhaka has complained to New Delhi that he was taken to the Taj Mahal in a regular battery-operated public vehicle — called ‘golf cart’ in local parlance — and not in a private one normally used by VIPs and VVIPs visiting Agra.
The Bangladeshi foreign ministry has also told the Centre that the five-star hotel in which the president stayed in Agra had a faulty lift. During Hamid’s visit to Rajasthan during the same trip, no appropriate arrangements were made to control the crowd at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, the Union home ministry has been told.
Agra Police are probing the matter and will submit a report to UP security agencies. The findings will then be forwarded to the MHA, which has shot off letters to chief secretaries of UP and Rajasthan, pointing out the security breaches and advising the Agra district administration on how to “secure” VVIPs during such visits in future.
MHA under secretary Pranav Vishwas, in his letters to chief secretaries of UP and Rajasthan, said, “I am directed to say that it has been brought to the notice of the Union home ministry by central security agencies that Bangladesh President M Abdul Hamid paid an official visit to India (Delhi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Kolkata and Santiniketan) from December 18 to 23, 2014. His visit passed off peacefully without any incident. However some security lapses were noticed.”
Vishwas wrote, “In Agra, normal battery-operated vans were provided during the VVIP visit. Also, a lift in hotel Oberoi Amarvilas was not functioning properly.”
The letter offered suggestions to the district administration of Agra, asking it to ensure in future that VIP and VVIPs be taken to the Taj Mahal not in the regular battery-operated vehicles but separate, private ones.
Under-secretary Babu Lal of the UP government has directed UP DGP (security) to check on the security lapses that occurred during the Bangladesh president’s visit and submit a detailed report, so appropriate action can be taken.
Another letter was issued to the district magistrate of Agra by the security headquarters, UP, asking him to take the security protocol during VIP visits seriously.
DM Pankaj Kumar admitted he had received the letter. “We are preparing an answer, and will comply with suggestions,” he told media.
Agra SSP Rajesh Modak said a detailed report was being prepared and would be sent to authorities soon.
Hamid was in India, primarily for talks to strengthen bilateral ties.
The Taj Mahal remained closed for several hours on December 20, the day of his visit. He arrived late at the monument, and hundreds of tourists were stranded outside, unable to enter the monument. Many returned that day without seeing the inside of the Taj.