India celebrates Independence Day with social distancing

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoists national flag at Red Fort.

Published - August 15, 2020 10:25 am IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves after addressing the nation during the 74th Independence Day celebrations, at Red Fort in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves after addressing the nation during the 74th Independence Day celebrations, at Red Fort in New Delhi.

Amid multi-layered security arrangements and mandatory adherence to social distancing norms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday hoisted the national flag at the rampart of Red Fort.

However, unlike previous Independence Day celebrations, during which he used to break security protocols and meet schoolchildren, Mr. Modi this time waved his hand towards COVID-19 warriors and NCC cadets from inside the car while leaving the Red Fort in his cavalcade.

Following strict social distancing norms and avoiding the gathering of crowds, the entry to the Red Fort was only by invitation. Only 100 VVIPs were allowed to sit on the rampart. The remaining VVIPs and diplomats were accommodated on the right side of the fort. The left side of the fort was reserved for corona warriors and NCC cadets.

The chairs for guests were placed at a distance of five feet from each other and security personnel deployed inside the enclosure were instructed to ensure guests maintained social distancing and wore masks during the event. A kit that contained a white towel, water bottle, hand gloves, sanitiser and mask was kept on each chair for the guests.

The guests, who were mostly VVIPs and senior defence officers, were allowed entry only after thermal screening and hand sanitisation at entry point. The event was restricted for the general public.

To meet any emergency situation or in case any guest had COVID-19 symptoms, four medical booths were placed at various locations on the premises.

A senior police officer said that the premises were sanitised early in the morning and all security personnel were briefed to maintain a high level of hygiene while dealing with guests. The security personnel at frisking points were instructed not to touch the guests and an extended handheld metal detector was used to avoid close contact with the guests during frisking.

The members of the guard of honour were under quarantine, in view of the pandemic.

A senior police officer said that Delhi Police had made multi-layered arrangements in connection with the Independence Day celebrations. Necessary coordination had been made with other agencies. All agencies worked in close coordination with each other to cater to all kinds of threat inputs. SWAT teams and Parakram vans had been strategically stationed. The borders were sealed.

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