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Shorter guest list, no rugs and plenty of sanitiser for I-Day in the time of Covid

Several changes have been made in the guest list and arrangements due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to senior police officers, the guest list this year has been cut down and invites have been sent to around 4,000 people, including ministers, dignitaries and other VVIPs.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | Delhi | Updated: August 15, 2020 8:19:26 am
independence day celebration, narendra modi, delhi police, narendra modi independence day security, red fort, indian express newsPM Narendra Modi addressed the nation on the occasion of India's 74th Independence Day today. (Photo by Amit Mehra)

For the 74th Independence Day celebrations, Delhi Police is closely coordinating with agencies such as the National Security Guard and ITBP to provide multi-layer security at Red Fort, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will give a speech Saturday morning.

Several changes have been made in the guest list and arrangements due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to senior police officers, the guest list this year has been cut down and invites have been sent to around 4,000 people, including ministers, dignitaries and other VVIPs.

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More than 4,000 Delhi Police personnel will be deployed in and around Red Fort, including some in plainclothes to keep an eye on suspicious elements.

DCP (North) Monika Bharadwaj said, “Though the arrangements are different this year, we will maintain security the same way. Two-layer security will be deployed outside the monument. We are working with paramilitary forces.”

Outside the venue, security rings of SWAT teams and NSG snipers have been placed. Over 300 cameras, some with facial recognition technology, have been installed, and the footage will be scanned round-the-clock. The Red Fort has already been closed for public view. Schoolchildren will not be part of the celebrations this year; only some NCC cadets will attend the event.

The DCP said the police will help maintain social distancing at entry and exit points and inside the monument. “Everyone, from guests to policemen, will be wearing masks. There are points where hand sanitisers and masks will be given,” said police.

The 350 Delhi Police personnel who will be part of the guard of honour have been quarantined at police colony at Delhi Cantt. Guests who had Covid symptoms in the last two weeks and did not go for a test have been asked to avoid the event. Instead of rugs, guests will be seated on chairs placed at a distance of a few metres.

DCP PRO Eish Singhal has said that SWAT teams and anti-terror Parakram vans have been strategically placed near the venue. Flying of sub-conventional aerial platforms like paragliders, hand gliders, microlight aircraft, drones and hot-air balloons have been banned until the celebrations get over.

Medical booths and ambulances have been placed at four places near the venue for people who experience Covid symptoms and need medical assistance. Thermal screening of all guests will be done at entry points.

Heavy security will be deployed on the route taken by the Prime Minister to reach Red Fort. Over 50 dogs of the canine squad will be deployed with security personnel at railway stations, Red Fort and the PM’s house.

A senior police officer said, “Our dog squad is highly professional. More than 20 dogs will be stationed at Red Fort to detect bombs and criminal activities.”

At 2 am on Saturday, the 50 canines from a training centre in Model Town will be sent to railway stations, Metro stations, airport and Red Fort. Only a handful of breeds such as German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Belgian Shepherd and Labradors will guard the route from PM’s house to the Red Fort.

The dogs have undergone medical tests and will be given a special diet for their duty. The handlers and security personnel will also carry treats for the dogs in case they have to stay longer at their station. The dogs had also participated in the rehearsal for the event.

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