Pandora… Samara… Paramount… and the G20 Summit in Delhi. What is the connection? According to Delhi Police sources, these are a few of the hotels G20 leaders and their entourage stayed in during the three-day meeting of some of the most influential people in the world.
And if they aren’t familiar – among the several uber-luxurious properties in city – that is because these aren’t the real names of hotels that played host to United States President Joe Biden and his United Arab Emirates counterpart, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and heads of state from Nigeria, the Netherlands, Spain and Mauritius.
Sources told String Reveals Tuesday morning – after the summit’s conclusion and after the security blanket that covered New Delhi has been lifted – that each hotel had been assigned a code word for operational purposes and to maintain secrecy while plotting VVIP movements.
Protocol also dictates that when the head of state, or foreign dignitary, is on the move, his/her actual destination is never revealed during radio communications between the different teams guarding them – remember all the spy/thriller movies you’ve ever seen?
Each code word the result of briefings between the security teams of each head of state, the Special Protection Group (an elite commando unit that guards the Prime Minister) and the highest echelons of Delhi Police. All of this was under the direct supervision of the Union Home Ministry.
More specifically, police and security personnel at junior levels are not told of these words.
Code Words Revealed
So (and you’ve been waiting for this!) what do the code words lead to?
Pandora was US President Biden’s residence – the ITC Maurya Sheraton, which is usually where American heads of state stay when they visit India – and Samara was the code for the Shangri-La, where UK PM Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murthy bunked during the G20 Summit.
The Le Meridien, or Mahabodhi, was ‘home-away-from-home’ for leaders from Nigeria, the Netherlands, Spain and Mauritius, as well as World Bank officials, and the Taj Man Singh, or Paramount, hosted the UAE Crown Prince.
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Similar words were also assigned the The Lalit, The Grand, the Claridges, and other temporary residences. Code words were also used for destinations, so Rajghat, where G20 leaders and foreign officials paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on a rain-drenched Sunday morning was Rudpur.
And Pragati Maidan – ground zero, where the summit was held – was Niketan.
The high level of security aside, the weekend’s G20 Summit was not without a few moments of concern, after at least two separate breaches of protocol were reported.
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In the first, a car from Biden’s convoy made an unexpected appearance at the hotel hosting the UAE Crown Price and, in the second a Saudi man at the Crown Prince’s hotel tried to approach him.
Meanwhile, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is experiencing a few days more of Indian hospitality than planned, after his primary plane grounded. Mr Trudeau – who had booked into The Lalit – is expected to fly home later today.