Delhi Police have not prepared for a funeral of this scale in 27 years. Over 2,000 Delhi Armed Police (DAP) and paramilitary police, along with force from three districts — Central, North, and New Delhi — will be on the ground to make sure that the funeral of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is conducted smoothly.
It was in 1991, when former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was cremated in Delhi, that arrangements of this scale were made. According to former police chief B K Gupta, the then DCP posted with the PM’s security, “It was a tough time for us as the PM had been assassinated. Emotions were running high and they wanted to catch one last glimpse of their leader. The protocol was same as his body was taken from the party office to the cremation ground (Vir Bhoomi).”
Police expect over 5 lakh people, including VVIPs, politicians and dignitaries, at the BJP party office as well as the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal near Rajghat Friday. More than 20 companies of the DAP and hundreds of paramilitary personnel will be guarding the cremation ground. Delhi traffic police have closed 25 arterial roads, starting 8 am. These include Krishna Menon Marg, Tughlak Road, Akbar Road, Mansingh Road, part of KG Marg, Shahjahan Road, DDU Marg, and the stretch between Rajghat to Delhi Gate.
Joint Commissioner of Police (traffic) Alok Kumar advised people to keep track of the Delhi traffic police Twitter and Facebook pages, where traffic updates will be posted. According to Special Commissioner of Police (law and order) R P Upadhaya, all arrangements have been made on routes from where the funeral procession will pass. “The procession will go to the BJP headquarters on DDU Marg from Krishna Menon Marg, at 9 am. It is expected to reach the cremation ground in the afternoon,” said Upadhaya.
Police are putting up CCTVs on the stretch, with work underway since Thursday evening. Local police will be deployed at every intersection, apart from gunmen and snipers. A senior officer, who was posted as an ACP-rank officer in central Delhi in 1991, said that though times have changed, some challenges remain. “In 1991, we just had wireless sets — no mobile phones or CCTVs to keep a check. This time, it is expected to go off smoothly,” said the officer.