Clad in commando fatigues and armed with an assault rifle, Constable Anuj Kumar of the Delhi police remained deployed at one place, virtually static, for over two hours. Wearing a heavy bullet-proof jacket, the young constable stood facing the audience near the children’s enclosure throughout the event, keeping a hawk’s eye on the crowd. He was among the large number of commandos deployed at the Red Fort here to ensure peaceful Independence Day celebrations on Saturday.
“Our unit comprises about 30 men, but there are a large number of commandos from other units and forces who have also been deployed in and around the venue,” he said.
Over 20,000 security personnel from the Delhi police, paramilitary forces and the elite National Security Guard formed part of a multi-layer cordon around a 2 km radius of the ancient fort this year. Those deployed at the venue on a night vigil were replaced around 4 a.m.
All roads leading up to the venue were barricaded for access control, only vehicles bearing labels were allowed in. Braving the rain, the police screened each and every vehicle to ensure a clear passage to the VIP cavalcades.
Doing away with the usual method of general briefing, this year, the police sensitised almost every individual on his area of responsibility to keep the personnel focussed.
According to the plan, largely two types of pickets were formed at strategic locations. Instead of scattered deployment, the police posted personnel as per specific requirement of the location.
Quick reaction teams were part of the arrangements and security personnel were also posted along the banks of the Yamuna. Police Control Room vans, ambulances and fire tenders were stationed near the venue as part of the contingency plan.
According to another police officer, immediately after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cavalcade entered the venue around 7.25 a.m., buses were parked behind the barricades to prevent any vehicle from crashing its way in. “Teams comprising eight security personnel were deployed about hundred metres from the barricades at the venue,” he said.
The policemen on duty said over a dozen agencies were involved in sanitising the venue. “Anti-sabotage checks and searches were carried out by various agencies for hours every day during the last one month. Even buses that brought children to the Red Fort early in the morning, were subjected to anti-sabotage checks,” said a police officer.