Ivanka hotel changed for fear of Rohingya threat

Ivanka hotel changed for fear of Rohingya threat

By S. RAMA KRISHNA | Hyderabad | 11 November, 2017
Ivanka Trump
Rohingya presence near Falaknuma and alerts about ISIS militants having infiltrated into the country prompted the move.
A possible threat perception from Rohingya Muslims in the Old City of Hyderabad has shifted the stay of Ivanka Trump, US President Donald Trump’s daughter and advisor, from Taj Falaknuma to Westin Hotel, when she visits the city on 28 November for the US-sponsored three-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would also be present at the inaugural as Ivanka Trump leads a 600-strong US business delegation that includes dozens of CEOs and trade and commerce officials. Both the Centre and the Telangana government are leaving no stones unturned to ensure the security and safety of Ivanka and her team. As Ivanka is visiting India at the personal invitation of PM Modi when he met Trump at the White House in June end, the PMO along with Niti Aayog, is coordinating the arrangements for the GES, which would be attended by around 1,200 delegates. This eighth edition of GES has a theme—“Women First, Prosperity for All”. Ivanka Trump, 36, may stay in the city for at least two days, as per sources in the US consulate here.

Originally, it was decided to arrange Ivanka’s accommodation at Taj Falaknuma, a remodeled star hotel of the grand palace of the Nizams near the historic Charminar in the Old City. But, after a series of inspections by the US Secret Service agents and IB sleuths, it was found to be unsafe for the US President’s daughter in view of multiple factors, an official in Telangana police told The Sunday Guardian.

According to the official who is involved in the security arrangements for GES, the presence of a large number of Rohingya migrants, around 2,000, in the proximity of Falaknuma and intelligence alerts that some ISIS militants had recently infiltrated into the country prompted the officials to change Ivanka Trump’s stay from the palace turned hotel to Westin, a five-star hotel near the Hi-Tech City.

Falaknuma is located in the heart of the Old City of Hyderabad which is mostly populated by the minority community. The police is of the opinion that it would be difficult to screen people moving in an area where ISIS suspects can easily find shelter. The cops, at a review meeting on 23 October, concluded that any security checks and frisking of public might anger the locals around the Falaknuma.

On the other hand, Westin is just 4 km away from the HICC (Hyderabad International Convention Centre) at Madhapur, the venue of the GES, as against the 20 km distance from Taj Falaknuma. The US security staff, as well as consulate officials, favoured Westin which is located in a relatively posh area, compared to Falaknuma’s downtown, which has bad roads.

“Still, we had booked all rooms in all the star hotels, including Falaknuma and Westin in the city, for one week from 22-23 November. Besides Ivanka Trump, many dignitaries, including the PM and some CMs, would be visiting the city on 28 November,” Telangana Culture Affairs Secretary Burra Venkatesham told this newspaper, after a review meeting with Chief Secretary S.P. Singh. The Telangana government is fully geared for the GES as well as for the visit of the PM who would inaugurate the prestigious Metro Rail project’s first phase of 30 km on 28 November. Started a decade ago, the Metro Rail, which cost around Rs 15,000 crore till now, would also be showcased before the GES to woo investors to Telangana.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekahr Rao (KCR) had entrusted the task of attracting investments at the GES to his son and Industries Minister K.T. Rama Rao (KTR). KTR is now daily chairing meetings with officials to prepare presentations to the US delegates. Telangana standing first in the recent Ease of Doing Business rankings, too, is being utilised for the purpose.

The state government has gone on an overdrive to beautify Hyderabad city during Ivanka Trump’s visit and the PM’s launch of the Metro Rail. The police has launched a special drive to make the city beggar-free since 1 November. In the last one week, the cops have arrested around 400 beggars from Hi-Tech City, Jubilee Hills, Banjara Hills and Punjagutta areas, under the Anti-begging Act 1978. There are around 3,000 beggars on the city’s traffic junctions, but the cops are keen on arresting another 1,000 in the posh areas in the next two weeks. Some of the arrested beggars are in the city prisons, while others, mostly women and children, are in orphanages. “But, we are not doing this only for Ivanka Trump’s visit, this is for their welfare,” Deputy CM Mohamood Ali told the media on Thursday.

The government has also launched another drive to cover all drainage holes in the western part of the city where Ivanka Trump and GES delegates would be moving around. The US Secret Service agents have pointed out the security risk of uncovered manholes. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation had sanctioned Rs 25 crore to cover all drainage holes and repair roads in the Hi-Tech City areas. Chief Minister KCR is even planning to cut short the ongoing winter session of Assembly by 23 or 24 November, so that he can devote attention to arrangements of GES and the PM’s Metro Rail launch.

Initially, the CM offered to run the Assembly for 50 days from October last week to mid-December. But  as there is no pending agenda from the Opposition, he wants to wind up the session and focus on the GES and the Prime Minister’s visit.

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