A car with army stickers on it that was stolen at the weekend from outside a city park did not pose any security threat as it was not an official vehicle that can gain entry into restricted areas, a Delhi police officer said on Monday.
Police said they had intensified efforts to locate the car – a Hyundai Santro -- which belonged to an army doctor, as well as a police motorcycle stolen from Gurgaon about 10 days ago.
They are also looking for a car that was hired in Gurdaspur -- not far from Pathankot where militants struck an air base on January 2 – but has gone missing with its driver found killed in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. Earlier, this month a senior police officer reported his car with a blue beacon missing from Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh.
The stolen vehicles have added to the worries of police in Delhi, which is hosting French President Francois Hollande as the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day celebrations.
“We have informed all police stations across the city. There is heavy security at the borders because of the Republic Day arrangements. We will trace the vehicle,” said a senior officer of Delhi police.
“The vehicle is not an official army vehicle and cannot be used to enter any vital installation,” the officer said, referring to the Santro, which belonged to a colonel and was stolen from outside Lodhi Garden on Sunday afternoon.
The white Santro ((HR 51 T 6646) had three stickers on it – one of the Defence Services Officers Institute (DSOI), another of AIIMS and a third spelling out the word army on the rear window.
Authorities at both the DSOI in Delhi Cantonment and AIIMS have been alerted and given details of the stolen car.
Meanwhile, the Gurgaon police have decided not to use two-wheelers for the security of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hollande on Monday after they failed to locate a motorcycle belonging to a patrolling officer.
This year’s Republic Day has seen an unprecedented security alert sounded across the country’s top cities, especially in view of the attack on the Pathankot airbase and threats from what police say could be Islamic State militants against Hollande’s visit.
A string of arrests of what police said were members of an Islamic State secret module in India last week has also added to the sense of unease among security agencies.
More than 40,000 police and paramilitary forces had been deployed across Delhi, which has been declared a no-fly zone for civilian aircraft during the Republic day military parade. More than 1000 CCTV cameras had also been installed to bolster existing surveillance system in the city.
Hundreds of snipers had been positioned atop many of more than 400 building along the parade’s route, police said. Surface-to-air missiles were being placed on the lawns of India Gate, close to where Modi and Hollande will be seated with other guests to witness the parade.
Police had also walled up photographs of suspected militants at many public places across the city.