A seven-layer security ring will be thrown around the VVIP enclosure on Rajpath for the Republic Day parade to be witnessed by US President Barack Obama and the airspace over the area would be monitored by a radar to be specially set up.
This will form part of the planned unprecedented ground-to-air security drill that will turn the national capital into an impregnable fortress during the visit of Obama as Chief Guest for the main Republic Day celebrations on January 26–the first by any American President.
A multi-agency control room will monitor the surveillance operations in every area of the national capital which has been put on the highest alert because of the visit of the US President. Obama is arriving here on January 25 on a three-day visit to the country.
Threat perception is the highest for the event but there is no specific intelligence input about a possible terror strike, officials engaged with the preparations said today while giving a broad overview of the security drill.
American Secret Service personnel, who have landed in the capital and Agra, have already conducted a preliminary survey of the routes to be taken by the US President and Rajpath where Obama will be seated along with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hosts of other VVIPs to watch the annual parade.
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 bullet proof limousine. If he does come with the President, he will be possibly the first US President not to travel in his own highly-secured ‘Beast’.
A seven-layer security ring will be thrown around the VVIP enclosure with elite Special Protection Group and Secret Services personnel forming a part of the Close Proximity ring, official sources said, adding a radar has been exclusively kept for monitoring air space over the VVIP enclosure.
Central Security agencies have brought in their Concealed Anti-Terrorists (CAT) squads to the national capital who form part of teams that carryout surprise checks at hotels, guest houses and vulnerable localities.
The ITC Maurya hotel, where the US President will be staying, has been taken over by the Secret Services personnel and multi-frequency control room manned by the US officials have been set up.
American security personnel will also be part of the teams manning the control rooms set up to watch footage of nearly 15,000 CCTVs installed in the capital.
A power-point presentation of the Republic Day was given to the US officials about the events of the day including the cultural programme that will be performed by various artists before the VVIPs at Rajpath.
Besides the 80,000-member strong Delhi Police, additional 20,000 paramilitary personnel and armed police forces from neighbouring states including Haryana, Rajasthan and India Reserve Battalions have been pressed into service to ensure fool-proof security in the capital especially around Rajpath where the main Republic day function will be held.
Anti-aircraft guns have been placed at strategic locations to thwart attempts to violate the air space over the venue, which has been traditionally a no-fly zone.
Metro underground and offices around the Rajpath area will be taken over 72 hours in advance at the request of the US security personnel. Snipers will take up positions at vantage points while Indian Air Force(IAF) will provide air cover to the parade area and the VVIPs on the ground.
Guest list for the ‘At-Home’ function hosted by the President is being pruned this time because of security considerations, the sources said.
The American security officials will be part of every rehearsal drill.
US and Indian security agencies are taking extra care for Obama as he will be on an open air platform at Rajpath for more than two hours witnessing the Republic day parade. There is a possibility of putting up a bullet-proof shield in and around the VVIP enclosure.
Unlike in previous years, access to Rajpath has already been closed while roads criss-crossing Rajpath like Rafi Marg, Janpath and Man Singh Road will be shut for general public a day or two before January 26.