A high alert has been sounded in Delhi on Monday with at least 40,000 security personnel keeping a close watch a day ahead of Republic Day celebrations amid warnings of terror threats from central intelligence agencies.
Five alleged terrorists, who were reportedly radicalised into joining the ISIS, were arrested by the police and sources said that the anti-terror unit – special cell – of the Delhi Police is monitoring all inputs from central agencies.
On Sunday, police issued photographs of all terror suspects and pasted them across railway and Metro stations and inter-state bus terminals requesting citizens to be alert. They also scrambled to locate a missing car with army stickers on it that they feared could be used to carry out attacks.
More than 40,000 Delhi Police and paramilitary forces personnel have been posted across New Delhi and security at all vital installation across the city, especially at Metro stations and airports, has been heightened.
Intelligence agencies have warned of possible attacks on shopping malls and public places in New Delhi and its suburbs, where police have set up bunkers. The city borders were being sealed off to heavy vehicles.
“We are on high alert as terrorists could attempt a strike to generate media hype. Also, the French president is the chief guest at the parade,” said an officer associated with the security arrangements.
The Indian Air Force has its air defence batteries in place to deal with aerial threats such as aircraft and missiles. The army has also positioned it’s quick reaction teams (QRTs) across Delhi to respond to any emergency, with the January 2 Pathankot terror strike reinforcing the need to tighten the security architecture.
At India Gate, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee will be seated with chief guest French President Francois Hollande, police have already sanitised the area. President Hollande will be the fifth French president to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi.
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Sources said Special Protection Group and National Security Guards personnel would be the first layer of security for guests at India Gate. While the air space over India Gate has already been declared a no-fly zone, surface-to-air-missiles will also be placed at its spacious lawns.
Entry to C-Hexagon at India Gate will be closed from Monday midnight and it will be opened only after the completion of the Republic Day parade. Entry to India Gate and Rajpath was restricted a few weeks back.
Police have identified more than 400 buildings across India Gate and central Delhi, within a two-km radius of Rajpath through which the parade will pass, and several such high-rises will also be sealed. Snipers have been deployed at vantage points to take out hostile targets if required. Officers of the special cell have also conducted door to door verification of some buildings along the route.
This year, DTC buses have been used instead of iron barricades to stop vehicles from barging into any vital installation at several locations, like Parliament area and Vijay Chowk, in the city. Police sources said compared to iron barricades it becomes difficult for vehicles to free themselves after hitting the bus.
Police said more than 1,000 CCTV cameras have been installed and will be monitored by a team of officers. Apart from these, existing cameras installed by the Delhi traffic police will also be used to keep an eye on important locations in the city.
A wireless integrated public address (Wipa) system has been also been set up at 36 locations, mostly market places, across the city. Police can make announcements from the police control room which can be heard at all the locations simultaneously.