The President's Bodyguard during rehearsals for the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi, India.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
The President's Bodyguard during rehearsals for the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi, India.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

Shorter parade, age cap on guests: Covid-19 casts a shadow on Republic Day

Officials privy to the preparations said only 25,000 people will be allowed to watch the parade on Rajpath compared to over 100,000 people who usually turn up for the event. They said only 4,000 people from the general public will be allowed. Rest of the spectators will be VVIP and VIP guests.
By Anvit Srivastava
UPDATED ON JAN 18, 2021 07:41 AM IST

The annual Republic Day parade at Rajpath will curtailed both in terms of spectators and the spectacle due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing farmers protest. Officials privy to the preparations said only 25,000 people will be allowed to watch the parade on Rajpath compared to over 100,000 people who usually turn up for the event. They said only 4,000 people from the general public will be allowed. Rest of the spectators will be VVIP and VIP guests.

Spectators need either passes or tickets to watch the parade. Also, nobody will be allowed at the free standing areas, located near the boat club and at India Gate lawns where thousands gather each year to watch the grand parade.

Also, only those above the age of 15 years and below 65 will be allowed to watch the parade, officials said. In order to ensure social distancing, bleachers or stands along the Rajpath have been replaced with chairs. The new norms have been laid down in view of the coronavirus pandemic, a senior Delhi Police officer said, requesting anonymity.

This year, the main parade consisting of the marching contingents from the three arms of the defence forces, weapon systems and groups from the paramilitary, will conclude at the India Gate, instead of going up to the Red Fort. However, the tableaux will be allowed to go up to Red Fort grounds.

Another officer, privy to the developments, who wished not to be named, said the decision of not taking the parade up to the Red Fort and restricting it within the New Delhi district will help containing movement of the participants. This will also prevent overcrowding of people on the route from India Gate up to the Red Fort, he said.

“The New Delhi district will be sealed and entry tickets or passes will be checked on the periphery of the New Delhi districts. Some of these check points fall at ITO, Dhaula Kuan, Aurobindo Chowk and near Ranjeet Singh flyover. Someone visiting the parade will have to show their ticket or pass along with their identity proof having the same name as on the ticket or pass issued. Tickets and passes that are issued in the visitor’s name will not be transferable,” the officer added.

Deputy commissioner of police, Eish Singhal, who is the Delhi police’s spokesperson, explained the security has been set up in multiple layers – the outer cordon, middle cordon and inner cordon. People will be allowed from the outer cordon under strict watch where pickets and check points will be set up. Here, people will be stopped for random checking. However, only those with Republic Day tickets or passes will be allowed through the inner cordon.

The size of the marching contingents from the armed forces and the paramilitary will be smaller. These squads will only have 96 participants compared to 144 in the ordinary course

Independence Day celebrations were also hit by the pandemic this year, with fewer VIPs attending the event the Red Fort.

“Thermal screening will be conducted at all entry points and for those running temperature be isolated immediately in resting booths where a doctor and paramedic staff will be stationed,” the officer said.

Sanitisers, face masks and gloves will also be made available at the venue, the officer added.

Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital said, precautions being taken are necessary. “The guidelines are necessary in view of the pandemic. Such mandates are required to contain the spread of the virus. Government must have decided the restrictions on number of visitors based on these factors. It is advisable that people watch the Republic Day celebrations on their TV sets this year,” Kishore said.

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