Security has been beefed up in the national capital with thousands of Delhi police and paramilitary personnel keeping a hawk-eyed vigil in the city to thwart any possible threats in the run-up to Independence Day later this week.
Given the security threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi from several terrorist outfits, the security apparatus for the Independence Day celebrations has been scaled up this time.
A multi-layered security cover has been put in place along with a ground-to-air security apparatus to pre-empt any possible terror strikes in the city with special emphasis on the region around Red Fort where the main celebrations will take place with the prime minister unfurling the national flag and delivering his address to the nation.
Besides the patrolling of the skies by helicopters, an air defence mechanism will be put in place around the venue.
Heightened security will also be in place along the route to be taken by the prime minister’s cavalcade and around Rajghat, where he will lay a wreath at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi early morning.
On Friday, only those vehicles carrying parking stickers will be allowed on the routes in the vicinity of Red Fort. “A fool-proof security plan is in place and we are prepared for any eventuality. People from the general public are requested to cooperate,” said a senior Delhi police official.
Most of the security apparatus has been put in place for the full dress rehearsal of the Independence Day celebrations which will be held on Wednesday.
Additional manpower has been put on duty on important public facilities like Delhi Metro and IndiraGandhiInternationalAirport in addition to other crowded places like market places, railway stations, inter-state bus terminals and other establishments of strategic importance.
“Barricades and checking has been intensified within the city and at the borders. Special checking of all vehicles, both private and commercial, entering Delhi from the neighbouring states through border entry points is being carried out,” the official said.
Around 5,000 personnel of Delhi police will be deployed for security, frisking and traffic management in and around the venue. Security personnel from the central paramilitary forces will be also be pressed into service.
With arrangements been made to seat around 10,000 people from the general public, workload for security agencies has further increased this time.
Sharpshooters of National Security Guard and spotters will be deployed on the high-rises near the 17th century Mughal fort, officials said. Specialised units like Quick Reaction Teams, SWAT and Vajra will be deployed along with the commando units of Delhi police at strategic locations, police said.
Security agencies are constantly reviewing the arrangements at Red Fort and have zeroed in on the ‘safe houses’ where the prime minister and other leaders could be taken in case of a terrorist strike, officials added.
The visitors, however, will not be allowed to carry mobile phones, cameras, binoculars, handbags, briefcases, cigarette lighters, transistors, tiffin boxes, water bottles, lunch boxes, etc, to the venue and would be subjected to heavy security checks.
Image: Police personnel take part in a rehearsal for Independence Day celebrations. Photograph: Babu/Reuters