Rashtrapati Bhavan will transform into an impenetrable fortress with the Indian Air Force’s air defence system on high alert to detect any unidentified or low-flying object overhead during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi on May 26.
Modi is one of the most heavily-guarded politicians in the country. But the stakes have become higher as dignitaries with high threat perception, such as Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, are attending the ceremony. Even Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to attend.
“A high-security zone is being demarcated in and around the presidential estate to regulate the entry and exit of visiting heads of states or their representatives from the Saarc countries. The scale of security will be on par with arrangements for the Republic Day parade. There will be regular anti-sabotage checks on all roads leading to Rashtrapati Bhavan, which is already a high-security zone along with neighbouring buildings like the prime minister’s office, North Block and South Block. More than 5,000 security personnel will be deployed for the ceremony,” said a security official requesting anonymity.
The sky above Rashtrapati Bhavan is already a no-fly zone but security agencies will not take any chances as any low-flying drone or toy plane can penetrate the security ring. These are hard to detect by any radar.
Anti-aircraft guns of the air force are already deployed at classified locations to take care of any flying threat.
Around 3,000 Indian and foreign dignitaries are expected to be at Rashtrapati Bhavan’s forecourt to watch Modi take oath as India’s next PM, a government source told HT.
“The Delhi Police will be responsible for the security of visiting dignitaries. They will get protection after a threat perception analysis in consultation with security agencies of respective countries,” said the official. “Commandos from the Delhi Police will handle their close-proximity security as well. Karzai, Rajapaksa or any visitor from Pakistan is likely to get more security as threat to them is always higher.”
Watch-and-ward staff from Parliament and protocol officers from the Supreme Court and key high commissions and embassies will be pressed into service for identification of all invitees as they cannot be frisked. A similar arrangement is made for the Republic Day parade, said security sources.
“Separate parking, entry and exit arrangements are being made. Snipers will be deployed on the rooftops of all surrounding buildings and traffic is likely to remain closed on all roads leading to Rashtrapati Bhavan,” said a Delhi Police official associated with the security arrangements.