Delhi Turns into Fortress for Obama’s Visit

Sunday, January 18, 2015
The annual Republic Day parade on Rajpath (file photo: PTI)

A seven-layer security ring is planned during the Republic Day parade with the chief guest being U.S. President Barack Obama. The capital has already turned into a fortress, with a key road being sealed off a week in advance.

The home ministry has moved into overdrive, with security agencies finalizing plans for Obama's protection in Delhi. The U.S. president arrives on January 25 to attend the parade in Delhi and to visit Agra and Varanasi.

According to PTI, a multi-agency control room will monitor the surveillance operations in every area of the capital. The city has been put on the highest alert because of the upcoming visit, though there is no specific intelligence input about a possible terror strike.

American Secret Service personnel, who have landed in Delhi and Agra, have already conducted a preliminary survey of the routes to be taken by the U.S. president. The ITC Maurya hotel, where Obama will be staying, has been taken over by Secret Service personnel and a multi-frequency control room manned by the U.S. officials has been set up.

15,000 CCTVs have also been installed across the capital, and American security personnel will be part of the teams manning the control rooms set up to monitor this footage.

While viewing the annual parade on Rajpath, Obama will be seated with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, members of India’s political elite, as well as several thousand members of the public.

US and Indian security agencies are taking extra precautions as Obama will be on an open air platform for more than two hours while watching the Republic Day parade. A bulletproof shield may be put up around the VVIP enclosure.

According to PTI, there is a possibility that the chief guest, for the first time, will arrive at the venue separately rather than with the president in his bulletproof limousine. If Obama does come with President Mukherjee, he will be possibly the first US president not to travel in his own highly-secured 'Beast'.

Unlike in previous years, access to Rajpath has already been closed, while roads criss-crossing Rajpath, such as Rafi Marg, Janpath and Man Singh Road, will be closed to the general public a day or two before January 26.

Metro stations and offices around Rajpath will be taken over 72 hours in advance at the request of the U.S. security personnel. Snipers will take up positions at vantage points while the Indian Air Force (IAF) will provide air cover to the parade area and the VVIPs on the ground.

Central Security agencies have brought in their Concealed Anti-Terrorists (CAT) squads to carry out surprise checks at hotels, guesthouses and sensitive areas.

Apart from the 80,000-member strong Delhi Police, an additional 20,000 paramilitary personnel and armed police forces have been brought in from neighbouring states to ensure security in the capital.

However, India has reportedly turned down a suggestion by Obama's security teams that a 5-km ‘no-fly zone’ be imposed around Rajpath during the parade. A no-fly zone would have led to the customary flypast by IAF being cancelled.

"The US team was told that this was simply not possible," a source told The Times of India.

Nevertheless, to reassure the guests, anti-aircraft guns have been placed at strategic locations to prevent any attempt to violate the air space over the venue.

- Karan Singh

To Learn More:

Unprecedented seven-layer security ring for Obama's India visit (PTI)

US asks for a no-fly zone over Rajpath on R-Day, India says no (The Times of India)

15,000 CCTVs for Obama, why not for Indians: HC (The Times of India)

Terror attack during Barack Obama's India trip will have 'consequences': US warns Pakistan (PTI)

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