Monday, August 17, 2009

Chidambaram’s surprise visit to GMC stadium

Vikram SharmaFirst Published : 17 Aug 2009 03:12:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 17 Aug 2009 03:13:34 AM IST

HYDERABAD: From the country’s financial aspects to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and safeguarding the Indian borders to the Maoist menace and internal security of the country -- he has spoken about it all, innumerable times.

But it was today that his `love’ for the game of badminton was made known to all. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram was seen discussing, at length, nuances of badminton including the volleys and smashes, that too for full five hours! But the `smash’ he himself delivered after his New Delhi office `orally’ communicated about his `secret’ visit to the GMC Balayogi stadium only to the State Intelligence wing was one aspect which took the Cyberabad police, including the senior officials there by sheer surprise.

Top sources disclosed to Express that though a battery of security personnel from the Intelligence Security Wing (ISW) were drafted to `cover’ the Home Minister (as per the usual security drill) and even the convoy of bullet proof cars in place for the high profile visitor ever since he arrived by an Indian Airlines flight at 12.10 p.m., the Cyberabad police did not have the faintest idea that none other than the Union Home Minister was to visit the stadium. Unconfirmed reports suggested that before going to the stadium, he attended an engagement function.

``His office in New Delhi had informed us that it was a private visit and unofficial. We were asked not to disclose the details of his visit even to the local police.

Simultaneously, we were making all the arrangements,’’ a senior police official who was in the know of the Home Minister’s visit told Express.

He said that his office had clearly instructed the State police that he intended to have a first hand feel of the security arrangements and watch the game without any `usual hungama’.

``He arrived into the stadium at 2 p.m, when the game started and discussed the nuances of the game. He discussed smashes, volleys and got excited just like any other visitor when a player delivered a smash. He did not mention anything about security aspects and was completely focussed on the game without any disturbance,’’ a source present at the stadium said. Even some MLAs present there just greeted him and left Chidambaram `alone’ to watch the game.

``It was only after he came inside the venue that we knew he was here. We made enquiries and later learnt that his office had also insisted that besides the security officials, the local police (Cyberabad) should not be informed about his visit,’’ a Cyberabad police official said.

Chidambaram left the stadium at 7 p.m. and drove straight to Shamshabad airport and boarded a Jet airways flight back to Delhi.

For his departure though, the Cyberabad police were present in large numbers escorting his convoy to the airport.

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