Indian media: 'Delhi lockdown' as Obama visits

Members of the Indian Army band rehearse in Delhi on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption US President Barack Obama will be the chief guest at India's Republic Day parade in Delhi on 26 January

Papers say unprecedented security measures have been taken ahead of US President Barack Obama's second visit to India.

Mr Obama will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in Delhi on 26 January and subsequently hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Papers say the national capital will be under tight security and surveillance to prevent any untoward incident.

"The capital is set to witness a lockdown of sorts in the run-up to 26 January, with offices, arterial roads and metro stations closed for security," the Hindustan Times reports.

A seven-layer security ring will be in place around the area from where the US and Indian leaders will watch the parade, reports say.

The airspace, too, will be monitored by radar as part of a "ground-to-air security drill", The Times of India reports.

The security alert, in fact, will not be limited to Delhi. Major ports around the country will be under high surveillance.

"A slew of measures have been initiated to beef up coastal security. All major ports have installed high end security surveillance systems to avert any untoward incident," The Indian Express quotes a security official as saying.

The number of security forces has also been increased in the border areas with Pakistan to curb any infiltration bid by militants.

"Indian security forces have deployed around 1,200 more troops on certain stretches along the India-Pakistan border after intelligence inputs indicated a strong chance of infiltration in the run-up to President Obama's visit," the Hindustan Times says.

Requests denied

Despite these measures, reports say that the Indian government has denied some of the US authorities' security requests.

"While most demands by the US authorities have been met with, some of them have been rejected outright. US authorities reportedly wanted a no-fly zone imposed over Rajpath even for the Republic Day function but India denied the request saying it was traditional to have the Indian Air Force fly past," the First Post website says.

The Hindustan Times says "US agencies also insist on Mr Obama using his bullet-proof presidential limousine The Beast, but Indian officials point out the parade's chief guest and the Indian president always travel together".

Swine flu

In some health-related news, nine more cases of swine flu have been reported in Delhi, taking the total number to 135, the Hindustan Times reports.

Experts, however, say there is no reason to panic as the disease can be treated like any other seasonal flu.

"There has been no shift in the pandemic strain of 2009. We have developed antibodies against the virus," the paper quotes senior health official Dr RN Das as saying.

The H1N1 virus, which causes swine flu, first appeared in Mexico in 2009 and rapidly spread around the world. It killed 981 Indians in 2009, 1,763 in 2010, 75 in 2011 and 405 in 2012.

And finally, four armed men robbed a restaurant in the Greater Kailash area of Delhi and ate pizzas before escaping, The Times of India reports.

The suspects "entered the outlet through the rear door… taped the mouths of the employees… robbed around rupees 200,000 (£2100, $3200) cash and other valuables and fled after eating pizzas," the paper says.

Police, however, have caught two of the four suspects after the incident on Friday.

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