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Fortress Delhi gears for Olympic relay

Heavy security for Thursday. But 48 hrs from run, Tibetan protesters make a mockery of it, reports Ravi Bajpai.
Hindustan Times | By Ravi Bajpai, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 16, 2008 12:37 AM IST

The Olympic torch relay run in Delhi will be held on Thursday under heavy security deployment, unprecedented outside of Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations.

At least 13,000 security personnel will keep a watch on the torch during the run, which had to be cut short in countries like the US, UK and France due to anti-China protests by Tibetans.

The torch will be brought to Delhi on Wednesday night and will remain here for roughly 20 hours, before being flown to Bangkok. Unlike in other countries, you would be lucky if you get even a glimpse of it. Till Tuesday evening, there was no official word on whether public would be allowed on either side of the Rajpath on which chosen dignitaries would carry the flame. The 1-km run will last at best an hour. The exact time of the run is not known yet.

Only about 500 special invitees and selected schoolchildren would be allowed on the relay path. They will be surrounded by 1,000 security personnel in civil dress — 600 from the NSG and paramilitary forces, and the rest from the Delhi Police. All roads leading to the India Gate C-hexagon, Vijay Path and Rajpath will be out of bounds for the public for about four hours around the time of the relay.

The security plan was finalised at a meeting convened by Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta. Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan met foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and police commissioner Y.S. Dadwal to discuss the security.

Around the same time, however, a group of Tibetan protesters made a mockery of the security plans when they took out a ‘Free Tibet’ march on Rajpath despite a ban on such processions. Police said 27 protesters were held.

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