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April 16, 2008 / Mridul

Unprecedented Security Measures For Olympic Torch Relay As Chinese Terrorists Infiltrate New Delhi

I can’t remember the last time that the National Capital witnessed such tight security measures. The security measures are bigger and more stringent than even those for the Republic Day Parade or the Independence Day celebrations. The road from the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace) to the India Gate has been completely transformed into a fortress. What used to be the favorite outing spot for the Delhities now looks more like a battleground with literally hundreds of policemen patrolling the roads.

Relay Route

Looking towards the Raisana Hill from India Gate lies the Central Secretariat where offices of almost all ministries of the Indian Government are located. India Gate is a war memorial build to honor the Indian soldiers who fought the World Wars as soldiers of the British Empire; it is a major tourist attraction. Rashtrapati Bhavan is the Presidential Palace where the current President Mrs. Pratibha Patil resides. The road joining the Presidential Palace and India Gate is called the Rajpath.

The torch relay will start form the Rashtrapati Bhavan which is located at the Raisana Hill and will culminate at India Gate. Both sides of the road connecting the start and finish points has been barricaded with wire mesh. Lawns on either sides, which would proved a great vantage point to launch protests, are now deserted. Rajpath is usually crowded with families and youngsters who come there to take breather from their hectic college schedules. All that is gone now.

Security Measures

The whole security arrangement gives a suffocating feeling to the people of Delhi. Although is Delhi being the political flash point of the country and we are used to frustrating security arrangements for political rallies and VIP movements the measures taken for the torch relay are going to test the patience of the Delhities even further.

An estimated 15,000 security personnel will be on duty during the torch relay. These include personnel from the Delhi Police, National Security Guard (NSG) and Paramilitary Forces. The security of the torch has been divided into three levels. In the inner ring will be the Chinese commandos (dressed in blue) of the Olympic Holy Flame Protection Group, next will be the commandos of the National Security Guard. The outer ring will comprise of personnel from Delhi Police, Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The relay may may also be monitored by the NSG from a helicopter.

The Chinese ambassador to New Delhi has had numerous meetings with the Indian security agencies for the past week or so regarding the security measures for the relay. The agencies’ claims of the tight security was shattered on the 15th when about 40-50 Tibetan protesters ran a mock Olympic relay on Rajpath. As a result, the Chinese ambassador was again found running to the security agencies to review the security arrangements.

Intelligence Inputs

According to the Intelligence Bureau, the Tibetans plan to disrupt the relay in small groups of 4 to 5, some may try to grab the torch and extinguish the flame as witnessed during the London relay. The Delhi Police also confirmed that five Chinese terrorists associated with the East Turkestan Independence Movement. Chinese intelligence agencies shared this information with their Indian counterparts.

Celebrities Pullout

At least half a dozen celebrities and politicians have refused to take part in the torch relay. These include:

  • India’s former top cop Kiran Bedi who pulled out due to the strong security measures which according to her are ‘suffocating.’
  • India’s Soccer Team Captain Baichung Bhutia who has openly taken a stand against China’s actions in Tibet.
  • Cricket Star Sachin Tendulkar who refused to run citing the ongoing cricket series with South Africa which incidentally got over a day early on Sunday.
  • UPA Chairman Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi who were not given security clearance due to the protests.
  • Union Sport Minister M S Gill who said that only sports persons have the right the to carry the Olympic torch.
  • Actress Soha Ali Khan who cited ‘strong personal’ reasons to pull out of the relay.

Breaking News

About 40-50 Tibetan protesters assembled at that the Chinese embassy in New Delhi and chanted slogans against China, there are also reports of sabotage. The Chinese embassy had been heavily barricaded and was surrounded by barbed wire after the Tibetans had infiltrated into the complex last month.

Delhi Government has barred school children from running along the torch after the intel about presence of Islamist terrorists in the Capital. Delhi Police has arrested a suspect from East Delhi’s Seelumpur region who allegedly has links with these terrorists. The Delhi Police has also released the names and photographs of the five terrorists.

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