Dailybhaskar.in | Last Modified - Nov 07, 2010, 08:15 AM IST
Mumbai: US President Barack Obama has said that his decision to stay at hotel Taj, which became the centre of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, is to send out a message.
"Just as Indians lost their lives on 9/11, Americans lost their lives on 26/11."
Obama said his visit to Mumbai was "absolutely" intended to send a message. "Mumbai is a symbol of the incredible energy and optimism that defines India in the 21st century."
The US president arrived at the Chhattrapati Shivaji International Airport shortly before 1 pm, following which he attended an event to pay tribute to the victims of possibly the worst terror attack on Indian soil.
In his first address after reaching India, Obama quoted country’s first prime minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, saying that he won’t allow the torch of freedom to be blown out.
The president also had some words of appreciation for the people of Mumbai.
He said, "Those who attacked Mumbai wanted to demoralise the city and India but they failed because the very next day people of Mumbai were back to work."
Obama asserted that the US stands with India to eradicate the ‘scourge of terrorism’.
Security is tight in Mumbai as several arterial roads, approaching to and from railway stations have been either completely sealed off to traffic, or blocked or made one-way in view of the trip -- measures that could inconvenience lakhs of people.
The security restrictions shall be felt acutely when hundreds and thousands of people move out of their homes to celebrate 'Bhai Dooj' on Sunday.
Besides traffic movement and parking, stringent restrictions have been imposed on pedestrian movement and functioning of shops and establishments in the entire five kilometre radius that the Obamas would 'occupy'.
Even public transport, including buses and taxis shall be restricted in large parts of south Mumbai, dealing a blow to cabbies who generally expect a Diwali windfall.
All tourist boats to and from Elephanta Island and harbour ferries at Gateway of India have been stopped since Friday in view the president's halt at the Taj hotel. (WITH AGENCY INPUTS)
Obama's India 'business' trip begins