Obama heads to fortress Delhi, citizens start feeling security pinch

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 24, 2015 20:06 IST

Som Sen started in his car from Noida sector 110 at 9.15am on Saturday for office at Barakhamba Road in central Delhi. He was yet to make it, even as the clock ticked towards 2pm.

“The roads are clogged and the police are checking every vehicle. I am being asked for my papers at every checkpoint,” the web professional said over phone.

Thousands are feeling the same security pinch because Delhi is fast turning into a fortress ahead of US President Barack Obama’s three-day visit to India beginning Sunday.

The fortress has been taking shape for some time now, necessitated by security preparedness for Republic Day, where Obama will be the chief guest at the parade.

A lot will go on behind the scenes, but here is what is known of the security blanket being thrown around the nation’s capital.

More than 45,000 security personnel will guard roads and 15,000 CCTV cameras will keep a hawk's eye on various areas.

Around 20,000 personnel will be deployed on specific locations from January 25 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 for the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.

Rajpath, the three-km stretch which is the main venue of the Republic Day parade, has nearly 160 CCTV cameras. One camera is installed 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 a part of heightened security arrangements, the no-fly zone for civilian aircraft will extend to 500 km radius of Delhi on January 26 and 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, the officials said.

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

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 a daily basis.

Delhi Metro on Friday said services would be partially curtailed on Republic Day. It said all Metro parking lots in Delhi would remain closed from 6am on January 25 until 2 pm on January 26.

Entry and exit at the Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan Metro stations will remain closed from 6 am to noon on January 26, while the entry and exit at Patel Chowk and Race Course stations will be closed from 8.45am to noon.

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

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