New Delhi: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivering his maiden Independence Day speech without a bullet-proof shield and thousands of people in attendance, to ensure an incident-free event was a greater challenge this time around for security agencies.
Around 15,000 security personnel from the Delhi Police and paramilitary forces today kept guard at the Red Fort and the area surrounding it and ensured that the Independence Day celebrations went by without a hitch.
It was literally an hawk-eyed vigil at the venue, as for the first time two high-resolution cameras costing Rs 2.5 crore were mounted at the two `burjs` (towers) of the Red Fort to keep a tab on any suspicious activity in a four-km radius of the Mughal era monument.
"There are only two such cameras in the country which have been hired by the Delhi Police at Rs 50,000 per day from Mumbai. They have been mounted on two burjs of the Red Fort. We can even zoom in on a housefly in the radius of four kms with them," said a senior police official.
The cameras, which were mounted yesterday, are more powerful than those used by television broadcasters.
The live feed from the cameras was closely monitored at the Delhi Police command room at the venue. An official from the NSG was also watching the live footage so that he could have instructed the snipers at high rises if the need arose.
Besides, police had also installed around 200 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the vicinity of the Red Fort while about 500 were mounted on all routes leading to the 17th Century fort.
"It was for the first time that CCTV cameras were installed on the entire route taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi via Rajghat. Even the contingency route had a network of CCTV cameras," said a senior Delhi Police official.
Armed security personnel were deployed at every 50 meters during the event that keenly monitored every movement. "There were around 10,000 personnel from the Delhi Police while 5000 were drawn from other paramilitary forces. The event has been incident-free and we can now heave a sigh of relief," the official said.
While the sleuths from Special Cell kept watch for suspicious elements, the security wing of the Delhi Police were also pressed into service for security arrangements. The traffic police took care of smooth vehicular movement. Sharpshooters of NSG and spotters were deployed on the high-rises near the 17th century Mughal fort.
Specialised units like Quick Reaction Teams, Delhi Fire Service, bomb squad, dog squad, SWAT and Vajra were deployed along with the commando units of Delhi Police at strategic locations, police said.
Besides the patrolling of the skies by helicopters, an air defence mechanism was put in place around the venue.
Heightened security was put in place along the route taken by the Prime Minister`s cavalcade and around Rajghat, where he laid a wreath at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi early morning.
A central control room was set up at the Red Fort where senior officials constantly monitored the situation.
Only those vehicles carrying parking stickers were allowed on the routes in the vicinity of the Red Fort.
Additional manpower from CISF and Delhi Police have been deployed at important public facilities like Delhi Metro and IGI Airport in addition to crowded areas like market places, railway stations, inter-state bus terminals and other establishments of strategic importance.
"Special checking of all vehicles, both private and commercial, entering Delhi from neighbouring states through border entry points is being carried out," police officials said.
Visitors were not allowed to carry mobile phones, cameras, binoculars, handbags, briefcases and water bottles etc to the venue.