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Delhi turns fortress ahead of PM Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unfurl the national flag from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on Wednesday morning to a 21-gun salute, and then address the nation on the anniversary of independence from British rule.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2018 06:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
narendra modi speech,15th august speech,independence day security
People hold tricolour flags as they participate in a rally on the eve of India's Independence Day, in Ahmedabad, India, August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Amit Dave(REUTERS)

Thousands of policemen were deployed and snipers took positions on rooftops on Tuesday as authorities placed special traffic arrangement in New Delhi ahead of Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unfurl the national flag from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on Wednesday morning to a 21-gun salute, and then address the nation on the 72nd anniversary of independence from British rule.

Modi’s speech will be streamed live on Google and YouTube for the first time this year and people can search for Independence Day to see his address, reports said. Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati collaborated with the search engine giant and the video-sharing website to telecast the programme live online, they added.

The Prime Minister has received thousands of suggestions for his August 15 speech after he asked people to send him ideas, a practice he has followed since the last few years, on several platforms including the Narendra Modi app.

Last year, Prime Minister Modi delivered his shortest Independence Day speech in four years as he spoke for 57 minutes. The year before he had spoken for 96 minutes, in the longest ever Independence Day address by an Indian Prime Minister.

He spoke about Kashmir, triple talaq, goods and services tax, good governance among other things in his speech.

This year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may announce benefits for about 32 crore Jan Dhan account holders in his Independence Day address among other things, news agency PTI reported.

Women SWAT team, CCTV cameras

The Mughal-era Red Fort has been put under a heavy security cover along with other critical areas in the national capital. Sharpshooters will also be stationed on rooftops in the cluttered streets around the fort while helicopters will fly overhead.

Nearly 70,000 officials of Delhi Police are guarding the national capital and close to 10,000 personnel have been deployed at the Red Fort, where senior ministers, top bureaucrats, foreign dignitaries and common people will be present during the Prime Minister’s address.

This year, 36 women personnel of the Delhi Police Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit will also be guarding the venue with their male counterparts.

A special team of snipers and commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) will form the inner layer of the security cordon at the Red Fort with anti-aircraft guns deployed to thwart drones and projectiles, senior police officials told PTI.

Delhi Police personnel have been specifically asked to keep an eye to ensure that no stray kites are seen in the areas around the Red Fort. Last year, when the Prime Minister was addressing the nation on Independence Day, a black kite had landed below the podium. Prime Minister, however, had continued his address unfazed.

Kite-catchers have also been deployed even though kite-flying has been restricted in the area till 11am.

More than 500 closed-circuit television or CCTV cameras have been installed on the routes leading to the Red Fort and over 200 cameras in the fort itself.

Police have carried out checks in the area and visited hotels in the vicinity in search of suspicious elements, officials said, adding that a security audit of the residents, including tenants, has been completed.

Delhi Police have prohibited paragliding, flying UAVs and hot air balloons, across the city.

Security along the route to be taken by the Prime Minister’s cavalcade, from his official residence to the Red Fort, will be monitored with the help of hundreds of CCTV cameras.

Metro, traffic

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation said in a statement its train services will run as usual but four stations of Line 6, Lal Quila, Jama Masjid, Delhi Gate and ITO, will have restricted entry and exit during the ceremony. Some gates will be closed at these stations owing to security considerations during this period.

Parking will not be available at the stations till 2pm on Wednesday in view of the security measures, the DMRC said.

The Traffic Police said at least half a dozen roads will remain closed and traffic will be diverted on some roads till Wednesday.

They said six roads—Netaji Subhash Marg, Lothian Road, S P Mukherjee Marg, Chandni Chowk Road, Nishad Raj Marg and Esplanade Road and its link road—will be closed for the public from 5am to 9am.

“Vehicles, which do not have parking labels for the rehearsal parade, need to avoid Tilak Marg, Mathura Road, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Subhash Marg, Jawaharlal Nehru Marg and Ring Road between Nizamuddin Bridge and ISBT bridge and take an alternative route,” joint commissioner of police (traffic) Alok Kumar said.

Kumar said traffic from Sri Aurobindo Marg, Connaught Place-Minto Road, Ring Road-ISBT and Nizamuddin Bridge would also be diverted.

Vehicles will also have to take alternative routes from Delhi-Noida-Direct way, National Highway 24, Vikas Marg, Vikas Marg- Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, and Boulevard Road-Barfkhana.

Local city buses, including those of Delhi Trasport Corporation (DTC), will not be allowed to move on the Ring Road from 4am to 11am on August 15, between Hanuman Setu and Bhairon Road T-point and take alternative routes available.

Buses terminating at Red Fort, Jama Masjid and New Delhi railway station will either be curtailed or diverted

First Published: Aug 15, 2018 06:37 IST