It got a shot of dubious fame after the man they inadvertently played host turned out to be someone wanted in connection with terror strikes. Hotel Surya Villa in Koregaon Park where David Headley was listed as a guest in 2009 is not taking any chances with its security. It has equipped itself with 19 CCTV cameras. The cameras scan just the hotel premises but also the surrounding perimeter and the road. They have police coming in once a week to check registers and seek information on any “suspicious” looking foreigner who may have checked in.
“We welcome the scrutiny because we follow rules. Even then (when headley was a guest) we submitted the C-form as required. We didn’t know who Headley was,” said Tejas Bumb, the owner who recalls how the hotel located a stone’s throw from the German Bakery and the Osho Commune that Headley apparently visited, had become the focal point of media and police attention in March 2010, a month after the German Bakery bomb blast after it came to light that Headley had stayed there the previous year.
It was The Indian Express that discovered this in March 2010. The hotel register that recorded details of all the guests had his name. Two documents gave proof of the visit — the C-form spiral, mandatory for every foreigner checking into a hotel, which included a carbon copy of the form filled by Headley, and the main register. The then manager Srinivasan had told Express then that as per rules, the original C-form along with a copy of Headley’s passport page that had his photograph had been sent to the police commissionerate.
According to the C-form, Headley checked into Surya Villa at 6.15 am March 16, and had a multiple entry B-visa (No: 314473) for India issued to him in Chicago on July 18, 2007 with validity up to July 17, 2012. Headley had written “180 days” in response to a query on duration of his stay in India, listing the purpose as “tourist”. In the space for date and place of arrival in India, something had been written and scratched out. The C-form gave Headley’s US passport number as 097536400; date of issue 10-03-06, valid up to 09-03-16. The main register has corroborating entries though the purpose of the visit has been stated as “business”. According to the register, Headley checked in on March 16, stayed in Room No. 202 and checked out at 8 am, March 17. He had stayed in a single occupancy non-AC room with a tariff of Rs 1,200. His total bill at the time of checking out was Rs 1,240.
“Following this information that even we were unaware of we were swamped by media and police and co-operated with both. Later, we decided to install 19 CCTVs as a security measure,” said Bumb adding that about 30 per cent of the guests are foreigners. He said that two years ago, they alerted police about a Nigerian who checked in and seemed to have a false passport and documents and he was immediately arrested by police.