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Tight security in place as India celebrates 69th I-Day

With the recent terror attacks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur still at the forefront of public concern, security arrangements for the 69th Independence Day are at an intense level all over the country, particularly in New Delhi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unfurl the national flag on Saturday.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2015 07:15 IST
69th Independence Day,Security for I-Day,Red Fort
National Security Guards (NSG) commandos have been deployed as part of the unprecedented security blanked thrown around the Red Fort ahead of the Independence Day. (Raj K Raj/ HT Photo)

With the recent terror attacks in Gurdaspur and Udhampur still at the forefront of public concern, security arrangements for the 69th Independence Day are at an intense level all over the country, particularly in New Delhi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unfurl the national flag on Saturday.

A multi-layered security ring will be thrown at and around the 17th century historic Red Fort from whose ramparts the Prime Minister will address the nation.

A bullet-proof glass enclosure has been erected for the Prime Minister at the Red Fort but it is not clear whether he will be speaking from behind the glass or in open like last year.

Sky over Red Fort and surrounding areas will be a 'no-fly zone' on Saturday during the event while thousands of personnel from Delhi Police and central paramilitary forces will be deployed on the ground to prevent any attempts to disturb the celebrations of the 69th Independence Day, official sources said.

Security will also be stepped up at vital installations. Similar intense security measures will be put in place in all the state capitals and major cities.

While there was no credible intelligence input suggesting attack during the day, the Home Ministry has passed on an advisory to states and union territories especially in the backdrop of recent terror strikes in Gurdaspur in Punjab and Udhampur in Jammu, official sources said.

The inputs collected and collated from various state intelligence agencies, the advisory warned that Pakistan-based terrorist groups and their Indian affiliates like the Indian Mujahideen and members of ex-SIMI may possibly target places like Lotus Temple, metro stations, BJP offices and political personalities in Delhi or malls in adjoining Noida.

Delhi Police and central agencies will keep strict vigil at these locations with Quick Reaction Teams, bomb disposal squads and dog squads along with the commando units of Delhi Police, the sources said.

Around 40,000 security personnel will be involved in the security apparatus that will be guarding the national capital with 6,000 of them keeping a watch at Red Fort where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unfurl the tricolour and address the nation.

In addition to physically manning the sensitive locations, close circuit TV cameras will be keeping an eye to cover the route to be taken by the PM and other dignitaries to reach the Red Fort, they said.

Over 500 CCTV cameras have been installed in and around the Red Fort. A centralised control room has been set up as part of the security drill.

Security in Jammu and Kashmir, North Eastern States and porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh will be beefed up with forces maintaining "strict access control and anti-sabotage checks".

Patrolling will be stepped up and strict vigil will be kept on places like Railway Stations and tracks, bus stands, airports and entry points, the sources said.

The security agencies will be keeping an eye on their own officials as there is a potent threat of possible impersonation by the persons taking part in parades, they said. The forces will also be maintaining a close vigil on the areas frequented by foreign nationals to avoid any untoward incident.

"Recent incidents of ceasefire violations by Pak army in the bordering areas of sensitive districts of Jammu and Kashmir with the intentions to facilitate pushing of armed terrorists in different sub-sectors, indicate that Pakistan establishment is desperate to infiltrate armed insurgents to our side for fomenting trouble especially during the run-up to the Independence day," the advisory said.

"There is reportedly, an increased presence of militants across Samba and Kathua before infiltration attempts are made from these areas into Jammu region. Similar concentration has also been reported across Poonch and Rajouri districts on the LOC," it said.

The Home Ministry has received inputs that terrorists might try to use drones and hang gliders. It has advised the security forces to keep an eye on remote pilotless vehicles, remote controlled aircraft, para gliders and hang gliders, open grounds and spaces, abandoned air strips etc.

The Delhi Police will be keeping an eye in the sky through helicopters, anti-aircraft guns being kept ready by armed forces to thwart any such attempt to disturb the celebrations.

Heightened security cover has been put in place around Rajghat where Modi will lay a wreath at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi before proceeding to Red Fort, the officials said.

The human intelligence network in view of terror threat was strengthened over one-and-a-half months ago.

No cameras, binoculars, handbags, briefcases, transistors, cigarette lighters, tiffin boxes, mobile phones, water bottles, lunch boxes, etc will be permitted at Red Fort, police said.

Security agencies have warned about a possible 26/11 style influx of terrorists from the sea and an attack on BJP offices and asked the forces to remain alert on the occasion of Independence Day to thwart any such attempt.

The advisory said that recent terror attack in Gurdaspur, several terror incidents in the past including serial blasts in Patna in 2013 targeting election rally of Narendra Modi indicated that threat emanates from Pakistan based terrorist groups and their Indian affiliates like the Indian Mujahideen.

The communication said an input received in September last year claims that terrorists have been planning to target BJP offices, commercial, tourist, religious, aviation and railway infrastructure in various states.

According to another uncorroborated input the ISI has "plan to hijack/explode Air India flights operating in Kabul-Delhi sector as they are being used by senior Indian officials."

The forces guarding the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bangla border, SSB and BSF respectively, have also been asked to remain on high alert following intelligence input that terrorists might also use these routes to infiltrate in the country to create disturbance on the Independence Day.

First Published: Aug 15, 2015 06:55 IST