Heavy security in Delhi-NCR as R-Day near, amidst terror fears

The government has this time put a cap on the number of people who can attend the Republic Day parade physically

New Delhi: Delhi and the entire National Capital Region will be placed under a thick blanket of security in view of the looming Republic Day celebrations. After intelligence inputs of a possible terror attack at around this time, the security agencies have put a complete ban on the operation of sub-conventional aerial platforms, including UAVs, paragliders and hot air balloons, over the Delhi region from January 20 till February 15.

In the wake of the recent drone attack in Abu Dhabi, where two Indians and a Pakistani were killed, as well as the recovery of IEDs in Punjab and Ghazipur, the possibility of a threat to the Prime Minister can’t be ruled out, a Delhi police officer said. Citing the recent security breach of Prime Minister Modi’s convoy in Punjab, the Delhi police officers said the force was extra vigilant to ensure no such incident happens in the Delhi area.

“As the Prime Minister’s security is of paramount importance, we have intensified our vigil and deployed extra manpower to ensure no such (Punjab-type) incident is repeated. We have also received intelligence inputs that there are chances of a possible terror or drone attack,” the officer said.

The government has this time put a cap on the number of people who can attend the Republic Day parade physically. The defence ministry has said the gathering will be curtailed by 70-80 per cent, with a maximum of about 5,000-8,000 people allowed due to the ongoing Covid-19 wave. Last year, approximately 25,000 people were allowed to attend the parade on Rajpath. Officials said the aim was to keep people away and ensure social distancing at all times so that it doesn’t become a super- spreader event.

The parade will also start half an hour later than usual, at 10.30 am instead of the usual 10 am, for better visibility of the flypast. This year 75 aircraft from the armed forces will take part in the Republic Day flypast over Rajpath to mark 75 years of India’s independence

There will be no foreign chief guest this year on January 26 for the second year running due to the Covid-19 pandemic, sources said. The heads of state of five Central Asian countries -- Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Turkmenistan -- had been invited by New Delhi earlier to be the chief guests for this year’s parade, but there has been no official announcement or confirmation by the external affairs ministry till now. The sources said the plans were dropped in view of the raging Covid-19 third wave. Last year, British PM Boris Johnson was to be the chief guest on Republic Day, but he had to cancel his plans due to the pandemic raging in the UK at that time.

According to the Delhi police, there is a three-layered security system in place and the force is always alert and undertakes anti-terror measures especially ahead of any event of national importance.
DCP (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav said in view of Republic Day, security has been tightened in the entire area where the celebration will take place being placed under multiple CCTVs fitted with facial recognition software.

All Delhi police units, including the local police, the Special Cell, Special Branch, traffic, SWAT (all-woman Special Weapons and Tactics) and teams from the National Security Guard, will be deployed, as well as the paramilitary forces, he said.

“Anti-drone arrangement systems have been put up at two different locations. Police personnel will also be deployed on high-rise buildings for extra vigil. There is also an air defence gun to keep watch and tackle any hostile aircraft,” the DCP added.

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