Free Press Journal

Delhi turns into fortress ahead of Obama visit


New Delhi: India’s national capital will turn into a virtual fortress ahead of US President Barack Obama’s arrival here Sunday, with over 45,000 security personnel guarding roads and 15,000 CCTV cameras keeping a hawk’s eye on various areas.

Around 20,000 personnel will be deployed on specific locations from Jan 25, the day Obama arrives in Delhi and the number will almost double the next day, Delhi Police said.

Police said over 45,000 security personnel will be deployed on the streets of the national capital Jan 26 for the Republic Day celebrations. Obama’s will be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade.

Around 15,000 newly-installed CCTV cameras will be used to keep watch in areas where Obama’s cavalcade will move as also some other roads and markets.

Rajpath, the three-km stretch which is the main venue of the Republic Day parade, has nearly 160 CCTV cameras. One camera was installed in every 18 metres.

A Delhi Police official, who did not want to be named, said camera footage may be shared with the US Secret Service.

Officials said as part of heightened security arrangements, the no-fly zone for civilian aircraft will extend to 500 km radius of Delhi Jan 26 and will cover cities such as Agra and Jaipur, and even areas along the border with Pakistan.

The radius of no-fly zone on for earlier Republic Day functions used to be 300 km, they added.

A seven-layer security ring will guard the enclosure that would be used by Obama, President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to watch the parade.

The enclosure will be bullet-proof as the US president will be in an open air setting for over one-and-a-half hours, something unprecedented in his visit to a foreign country, officials said.

Before Obama’s plane lands Jan 25 at Delhi airport, the area will be taken over by Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel and US Secret Service agents.

India Gate and Rajpath have already been shut for people and the area is under constant guard by security personnel.

Sources said the central, north and New Delhi districts will be manned by over 20,000 security personnel, including men from the SPG. The airspace over the capital will be monitored by special radar, they added.

Most of the buildings within a two-km radius of Rajpath will have snipers on the roofs during the parade.

Security arrangements at ITC Maurya, where Obama will be staying during his three-day visit, are being monitored on daily basis.

Delhi Metro Friday said services would be partially curtailed Jan 26 as part of security arrangements for Republic Day. It said all Metro parking lots in Delhi will remain closed from 6 a.m. Jan 25 until 2 p.m. Jan 26.

Entry and exit at the Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan Metro stations will remain closed from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m Jan 26, while the entry and exit at Patel Chowk and Race Course stations will be closed from 8.45 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Mandi House and Pragati Maidan metro stations will also be closed for people for one hour between 10.45 a.m. and 11.45 a.m., a Delhi Metro official said.