Taj Mahal, India Gate shut for public: India braces for Obama’s R-Day visit

0
257

January 19, 2015

For the first time in India, the Rajpath and India Gate will remain shut on 26 January as US President Barack Obama visits India for Republic Day.

Moreover, the Taj Mahal will also remain closed to the public for the duration of Obama's visit to Agra on 27 January, according to CNN-IBN.

January 19, 2015

For the first time in India, the Rajpath and India Gate will remain shut on 26 January as US President Barack Obama visits India for Republic Day.

Moreover, the Taj Mahal will also remain closed to the public for the duration of Obama's visit to Agra on 27 January, according to CNN-IBN.

Various traffic restrictions have been imposed in New Delhi and Rafi Marg, Man Singh Road and Janpath have been closed for the public from 24 to 26 January, according to IBNLive. Sardar Patel Marg on which the Maurya Sheraton is located and Teen Murti Bhavan will remain closed on 26 January.

Buildings adjoining the venue, like North and South Blocks, Rail Bhavan, Krishi Bhavan, Shastri Bhavan, Vayu Bhavan, Udyog Bhavan, Nirman Bhavan, Jawahar Bhavan, National Museum and Vigyan Bhavan will be shut by 25 January. Only security personnel will be allowed inside the buildings.

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.

The 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 the air space over the VVIP enclosure.

While the number of tickets for the parade has not been reduced, the Ministry of Defence (MOD), which is in-charge of the over two-hour-long parade at Rajpath, has made it mandatory for buyers to show identity proofs like a voter ID card, Aadhar card or state government-issued identity proof – for purchasing tickets.

This has caused a problem for those purchasing tickets for relatives or friends staying outside Delhi.

"I came two days back to buy ticket for my relatives who live in Bhopal. But at the ticket counter I got to know that without the identity poof of my relatives they will not issue tickets," Abhishket Dutt, a resident of Ghaziabad, told IANS.

"So I had to come again with the scanned copy of their IDs along with mine," Dutt said. This year the MoD has also limited the category of tickets being sold to Rs 10, Rs 50 and Rs.300. Earlier, there used to be other categories, of Rs 200 and Rs 250.

"Due to the heightened security and the presence of the US president we have made ID proof compulsory for ticket buyers," an official at a ticket counter in South Block in central Delhi told IANS.

Of the total 36 enclosures spanning the two sides of Rajpath, only six are for ticketed spectators. Those paying Rs 300 sit closer to the VIP enclosures, while those purchasing the lower amount tickets get seats farther away. Those sitting near the VIP lounge have been given passes only after scanning and verifying their identity proof.

"There will be some restrictions in New Delhi area. People can dial 1059 for traffic related information," IBNLive quoted Traffic Special Commissioner Mukesh Chander as saying.

Every year 30,000 people, including VVIPs and dignitaries, watch the ceremonial parade showcasing India's military might and cultural glimpses along Rajpath, which extends for three kilometres from Raisina Hills to India Gate. Like in previous years, no eatables or any metallic objects would be allowed at Rajpath.

Police have also ruled out the possibility of using drones, saying they don't want anything to be flying in the sky during the parade.

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.

However, Obama's security services are not pleased with the provisions placed at Delhi. US authorities reportedly wanted a 5-km-radius no-fly zone imposed over Rajpath even for the Republic Day function but India denied the request saying it was traditional to have the Indian Air Force fly past.

The fly past will showcase Indian Air Force aircraft, including its recent acquisitions from the US like the C-17 Globemaster-III and Poseidon-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft. The area around Rajpath is traditionally a no-fly zone for commercial aircraft.


(With agency inputs)