PM Modi’s cave stay was Mission Impossible for securitymen

In a first, SPG had to guard a VVIP who chose to stay in a cave in hostile weather.

Hyderabad: Old bathroom fittings were replaced with new ones including the geyser, a new wi-fi router was in place, besides a phone, the room was plastered to give it a new look, electricity supply was restored and a brand new room heater with radiator was purchased. In no time, the ‘rudra’ cave was spruced up with all new facilities.

Besides the multi-layered security — three layers to be precise — who stood guard for India’s most powerful man in temperatures which dipped to minus three degrees, a battery of doctors including cardiologists, were present. Dozens of personnel of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) along with the local police and of course the Special Protection Group (SPG) all had their eyes fixed on the cave while a group of electricians and plumbers remained on stand-by throughout the night as did two dozen porters (for transporting luggage and material) and several palkiwallahs, just in case the VVIP had to be moved in the palki.

Contingency plans are always there for the visit of any Prime Minister to any state or country. But the recent night halt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi inside the ‘rudra’ cave in Kedarnath, at an altitude of 11,700 feet in the Himalayas, kept the SPG personnel and the Uttarakhand district administration on the edge throughout the 17 hours he spent inside the cave.

This was probably the first time they had to guard a VVIP who chose to stay in a cave in hostile weather conditions that were perhaps a bigger threat than the ones emerging from the usual quarters.

“'We came to know about his visit to Kedarnath five days ago and to make arrangements in the cave, 11,700 feet up in the Himalayas. It was no ordinary task at this short notice. We swung into action and started making all the arrangements,” top Uttarakhand government officials told Deccan Chronicle.

In the next 24 hours, top government officials made multiple recces even as it snowed heavily, followed by spells of rainfall. As is the normal drill before any visit of the PM, the SPG had already taken over Kedarnath four days prior to the Mr Modi’s visit. He arrived in Dehradun on May 18 on a two-day visit and flew down straight to Kedarnath in a special helicopter.

The first task was to spruce up the cave and upgrade it completely for the use of the PM.

“'From bathroom fittings to plastering the walls to wi-fi, phones, room heater etc, we had worked on everything including the back-up (generators). Fresh roads were laid from the cave to the shrine. There was a contingency plan for everything and we had made separate accommodation ready just in case the PM wanted to shift from the cave. But he spent the entire time in the cave. At this altitude, oxygen is less and health is a major concern and therefore a battery of doctors including cardiologists were on stand-by,'” sources said.

Never in the past had the SPG found itself in a situation where it was tasked with securing a cave in which a VVIP was present.

The three layered security thrown around the cave consisted of SPG personnel as the first core layer.

The second was the local police with whom were present the personal staff of the PM, while the outer and third cordon was where a mixed component of local police, SDRF personnel, doctors, porters and palkiwallahs were stationed.

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