Mohit Sharma in New Delhi
March 2. — The US President, Mr George W Bush’s visit to Rajghat generated a controversy today after US secret service agents, who were accompanied by a sniffer dog of the K9 squad, checked the marble structure, leaving the staff of Gandhi Samadhi fuming but helpless.
This took place just before the US President arrived to pay his obeisance at the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi. The staff was upset when US security personnel took their sniffer dog on the pathway around the memorial of the father of the nation. They said this was the first time a dog was brought so close to the memorial of the venerated figure.
President Bush and Laura Bush paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. During his 10-minute stay, Mr Bush was briefed about the memorial by noted Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande and other members of the Gandhi Samiti.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to honour Mahatma Gandhi at this sacred site. His life was an inspiration to people and the world, and his contribution to all mankind places him among the great leaders of history,” the President wrote on the visitors’ book. He also said that Mahatma Gandhi was among the great leaders of history for his contribution to all mankind.
Mr Bush drove down to Rajghat after a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan. As the US President was showering rose petals on the memorial, two helicopters were hovering over Rajghat as part of the security drill. The entire memorial had been turned into a fortress with the Commissioner of Delhi Police, Mr KK Paul, overseeing the security arrangements himself.