Independence Day 2020: No children, only 250 invitees at Red Fort as COVID-19 casts shadow on I-Day celebrations this year

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Updated: Jul 24, 2020 12:35 PM

Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort will consist of Guard of Honour to the Prime Minister, firing of 21-gun salute, speech by the PM and the singing of the national anthem.

Independence Day 2020Preparations underway at Red Fort for Independence Day celebrations. (Photo OE)

Independence Day celebrations to be scaled down: The Independence Day celebrations this year would be significantly scaled down due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to a report in The Indian Express, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on August 15 as usual, but there will be no children and only a few dignitaries present in the audience. It said nearly 250 people will be present when Prime Minister Narendra Modi unfurls the national flag instead of the 1000-odd invitees every year.

The report said police will be in personal protective equipment (PPE) kit. Also, chairs instead of rugs for seating would be made available in several areas.

“At the Red Fort, instead of the 900-1,000 invitees every year, around 250 people will be present as the Prime Minister addresses the nation,” an official with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) told the daily. The final list of invitees will be prepared by the Defence Ministry.

Monika Bhardwaj, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North), said children will not take part in the celebrations this year due to the pandemic, except for NCC cadets. “Social distancing will be maintained, staff will be in PPE kits, and there will be a number of sanitisation points,” the official said.

The ‘At Home’ ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the afternoon will also likely to be a muted affair, where the focus will be on the country’s ‘Corona Warriors’. It said invitations are likely to be extended to medical professionals and key figures in the health sector. The IE report said the size of the gathering could be between 60 and 90.

Meanwhile, preparations have already begun at the Red Fort. Chairs will be placed this time in designated areas to ensure social distancing. The fort will be shut to the public starting August 1. Earlier, it would remain open till August 7.

Also, the Ministry of Home Affairs in an advisory on Thursday asked states and Union Territories (UTs) to avoid large congregations during the Independence Day celebrations and use technology in the best possible manner.

The MHA said in its communication that the ceremony at Red Fort will consist of Guard of Honour to the Prime Minister, firing of 21-gun salute, speech by the PM and the singing of the national anthem.

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