India is celebrating Independence Day on 15th August 2018. A cordon of tight security, including NSG snipers, elite SWAT commandos, kite catchers, over 500 CCTV cameras and thousands of security personnel, have been thrown around the Red Fort, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on the 72nd Independence Day on Wednesday.
Police are on high alert in the wake of an attack on JNU student leader Umar Khalid in the Lutyens' Delhi area on Monday and a terror attack in the UK on Tuesday, where a man drove a car at high speed and ploughed into several pedestrians, injuring three people, a senior police officer said.
On Monday, police were informed by a person that a man, wearing a uniform of an Indian Air Force officer, was suspiciously roaming near the Rajiv Chowk Metro station, and when he tried to call him, the man in uniform just fled from there.
"This year, intelligence agencies have not issued any specific alerts about any specific terror organisation planning to target the national capital. However, the threat is there from all terror outfits and we have to be alert, especially during this time," a senior police officer said.
While nearly 70,000 Delhi Police personnel are guarding the national capital, close to 10,000 cops have been deployed in the Mughal-era fort, which will see the presence of senior ministers, top bureaucrats, foreign dignitaries and common people during the PM's address on Wednesday.
(Taking Delhi Metro or DTC on August 15? You need to read this first)
Delhi Police personnel have been specifically asked to keep an eye on the sky 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. The kite landed quietly without causing any disturbance and the prime minister had continued his address unfazed.
Kite-catchers have been deployed even though kite-flying has been restricted in the area till 11 am.
Over 500 CCTV cameras have been installed on the routes leading to the Red Fort with over 200 cameras in the fort itself. The footage is being monitored round the clock, police said.
This time, 36 women personnel of the Delhi Police Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit will also be guarding the venue with their male counterparts.
Police have already carried out anti-sabotage 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.
At the Red Fort, a special team of NSG snipers and commandos will form the inner layer of the security cordon, while anti-aircraft guns have been deployed to thwart any aerial intrusion by objects like drones and projectiles, senior police officials said.
Delhi Police has already prohibited aerial activities, including para-gliding, flying UAVs and hot air balloons, across the city.
The buildings facing the Red Fort will be secured by police and paramilitary personnel.
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.
Special "spotters" of Delhi Police and the paramilitary will keep an eye on parking areas. Sniffer dogs will also be part of the extensive security deployment.
According to a statement by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, train services will run as usual. However, stations like Lal Quila, Jama Masjid, Delhi Gate and ITO will have restrictions on entry and exit during the ceremony owing to security considerations.
Parking will not be available at the stations till 2 pm tomorrow in view of the security measures, the DMRC said.