New Delhi: Massive security arrangements have been put in place for the three-day visit of US President Barack Obama, who will be arriving in India on January 25 for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day.
He will also visit Taj Mahal in Agra on January 27.
As per reports, a no-fly zone around Rajpath and nearby areas has been put in place for January 26. This means that now no drones will be used, as had been suggested by American security agencies.
They were apprehensive that a flying object could be used as a weapon.
Also, security agencies will partly or completely shut down 71 high rise buildings in the vicinity of Rajpath for this year's Republic Day celebrations, much higher then earlier occasions when only around 45 establishments were closed.
While the number of seats to be sanitized has increased this time, the number of passes issued for this year's event in ratio of the available seats has seen a decline of almost 60 per cent.
"Earlier, 300 passes were issued for every 100 seats available at the Rajpath as it was expected that only one out of three persons actually turned up at the event. But there were chances of overcrowding too with this approach so this time authorities are issuing only 125 passes for every 100 available seats," said a senior police official on condition of anonymity, as per PTI.
"Earlier, we used to shutdown only around 45 buildings from which Rajpath was directly visible but this time we will occupy 71 buildings which are in close proximity of the parade venue. The new buildings we will dominate this time are mostly high rises from where Rajpath may not be directly visible but from where projectiles can be launched," he added.
Police will take over these buildings around 1 pm on January 25 and sanitise every nook and corner of these buildings manually. Snipers will be positioned on the roof tops of these buildings after that.
Sources said a seven-layer security ring will be thrown around the VVIP enclosure on Rajpath for the Republic Day parade, as per PTI.
Moreover, the airspace over the area would be monitored by a radar to be specially set up.
This will be part of the ground-to-air security drill during Obama visit, which will take him to Agra too.
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.
At the same time, all offices, government and private, close to Rajpath will be sanitised and special passes will be issued to employees who will be working there on January 25 and 26. Only these people will be allowed entry in the buildings.
Adding to these security arrangements, key buildings facing Rajpath and Obama's route will have snipers them and SP Marg, which will be used by the US President, will be sanitised.
This year for Republic Day parade only 1:25 times extra passes will be issued compared to previous years when three times extra passes used to be issued.
The above restrictions will remain in place for January 25 and 26.
Meanwhile, asked about the security preparation for Obama's visit, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters today that "all security arrangements are in place. There will be no problem anywhere," as per PTI.
On the other hand, BSF, which comes under the Home Ministry, has stepped up security along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir, deploying close to 1,200 additional personnel there in view of the US President's visit to India.
With PTI inputs