Fortress Sanchi- that perhaps is the most accurate description of the look the world heritage site in Raisen district bore on Wednesday- 48 hours before Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and a host of other dignitaries are to arrive. The MP government has allocated all possible resources-including men and machines- to ensure that the event passes off smoothly.
Police personnel have been posted at every 100 metres on either side of the road from Bhopal to Sanchi. Check posts have been set up every few kilometers. Senior police officials led by IG Hoshangabad Ajay Sharma, DIG Hoshangabad, SP Raisen have been camping in Sanchi for the last few days. Battalions of special armed force(SAF) led by their commandants have been deployed from as far as Chhindwara and Dhar. DSP and ASP level officers have been drafted for duty from various districts of the state including Ratlam and Shivpuri. Sources said many officers have been drafted for duty on the basis of their prior experience in such programs. “Many police officers, who had been part of the security arrangements in 2009 when the Sri Lankan prime minister visited Sanchi have been specifically called for duty,” said a police officer. Besides this, a few freshly recruited IPS officers presently posted as CSPs have been drafted for duty.
While the VVIPs will be ferried from the Bhopal airport to Sanchi by chopper, they would travel some distance- from the helipad to the stupa, then to the foundation stone laying area, the program venue and finally the lunch venue by road. Throughout Wednesday, the police carried out mock drills of transporting the VVIPs in a convoy-everything was timed with contingency plans in place. CM security in charge ASP Shashikant Shukla also visited the venue to get a first hand account. As far as the equipment is concerned, the police have even brought in the mobile command and control centers, the BD&DS equipment and medical infrastructure to Sanchi for monitoring the program and dealing with exigencies.
Potholes on the road are being filled up and walls of government owned buildings on either side of the road are being whitewashed. “The bus stand in Sanchi has been cleaned and asphalt has been laid, electricity infrastructure is being repaired there even though the bus stand is not part of the Presidential program. I hope VVIPs come more often so that agencies do this work regularly,” said Guru Prasad, a tea stall owner in Sanchi.
The MP state tourism owned Gateway Retreat has been turned into a camp office by officials who are staying in Sanchi for the preparations and is closed to tourists.