Red Fort comes under security blanket for August 15

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) A multi-tier ground-to-air security ring has been thrown in and around the Red Fort from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation for a third time on Independence Day.

Nearly 10 security agencies took over the 17th century Mughal monument, located in Old Delhi, on August 8. They will hand over the complex to the Special Protection Group (SPG) and Delhi Police on August 14 evening.

The security agencies include the military, Prime Minister’s Security Cell, SPG, Delhi Police Special Cell, National Security Guard (NSG), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which routinely protects the sprawling monument, is also part of the security drill. And so are the Intelligence Bureau as well as the dog and bomb detection squads.

“Our routine drills will continue till August 14,” an official in the know told IANS.

Like every year, the Prime Minister will address the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15 to mark the country’s Independence Day.

The venue will be crowded with VVIPs, diplomats and ordinary people, the total number running into thousands. The speech is also heard by millions around the country.

The Red Fort, a hugely popular tourist spot in the capital, was closed for the public on August 8. It will reopen after the Independence Day celebration on Monday.

All security personnel now in the Fort have special cards to ensure no one infiltrates the complex.

At least 9,000 armed security personnel, including 400 sharpshooters, will be deployed at the Fort and nearby areas on August 15.

Some 40 CISF sharpshooters and 360 personnel from the NSG, CRPF, ITBP and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) besides BSF commandos will be stationed on buildings in a 500 metre radius of the venue.

Over 500 CCTV cameras have been mounted in the Fort premises and nearby areas.

The Delhi Metro tunnel near the monument will be shut a day in advance and armed guards deployed at either end.

Security forces started the sanitization of the Fort in June.

Over a dozen mock drills are carried out daily. These include placing so-called improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and storming of the facility by “terrorists” to detect the preparedness of the security agencies.

August 15 will also see extensive police deployment across Delhi.

More than 35,000 police personnel will spread out in crowded places, markets, railway stations, bus stops and other strategic locations.

Anti-sabotage teams are carrying out random checks and searches in the city, the officer said.

A special control room has been set up for August 15. Delhi Police have restricted aerial movement over the Red Fort for the next two months from Friday.

Red Fort, a symbol of authority from where the Mughals ruled undivided India, was attacked by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists in December 2000, leaving two security personnel and a civilian dead.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in)

–IANS

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