Stage set for Modi’s swearing-in

 25 May 2014 - 0:51

Artist Harwinder Singh Gill poses with his new creation, an image of Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi and tea cups ahead of Modi’s swearing-in ceremony tomorrow, in Amritsar yesterday.

New Delhi: An ‘impregnable’ air defence system and more than 6,000 security personnel, from paramilitary commandos to police sharpshooters, on the ground will be deployed to guard heads of state and government who will be present at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Presidential Palace, tomorrow evening to attend the open air oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi as India’s new prime minister.
President Pranab Mukherjee will administer the oath of office and secrecy to Modi. Around 3,000 guests including foreign dignitaries and diplomats will be present on the occasion.
The 6,000 security personnel will cover a 2km periphery around the Presidential Palace. They will be drawn from Delhi Police, paramilitary forces, the National Security Guard (NSG) and Armed Forces.
The security unit of Delhi Police and the prime minister’s security unit have drawn up a multi-layered security plan to provide ground-to-air security.
Delhi Police will be in charge of the security of the hotels where the dignitaries, including from Pakistan and Sri Lanka, will be staying, as well as their travel routes.
Delhi Police said a security ring will be thrown around Raisina Hill on which Rashtrapati Bhavan stands. All offices around it will be shut down five hours ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, slated for 6pm tomorrow in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will put in place a defence system to secure the skies, including air surveillance. Snipers, including NSG sharpshooters with telescopic guns, will be deployed on the top of all high-rise buildings around the area.
All roads leading to Raisina Hill will be barricaded, while mobile security teams will patrol the area. Paramilitary and Delhi Police commandos would also be deployed to secure the area. Dog squads and bomb disposal squads will sanitise the venue in advance.
The dignitaries who would be present are Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. 
Bangladesh will be represented by Speaker Shirin Chaudhury while Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam will also be present.
The security agencies are on high alert especially in the wake of the terror attack on the Indian Consulate in Afghanistan’s Herat province on Friday morning.
The electricians were busy connecting the wires of dozens of white coloured pedestal fans and desert coolers while a group of labourers unloaded rolls of red carpets from a waiting tempo even as municipality vans criss-crossed all of them, busy fumigating the sprawling forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Dozens of workers were toiling tirelessly yesterday to put finishing touches to the venue. The seating arrangement in the middle of the red sand covered rectangular ground is semi-circular facing the square shaped dais, which has a white base and maroon coloured borders. The stage stood at a height of about one foot and has the magnificent edifice of Rashtrapati Bhavan as a backdrop.
Around 30 white coloured pedestal fans and dozens of desert coolers were placed at equal distance from each other in front of the chairs to provide respite from the searing heat in the open.  Rolls of red coloured carpets were kept in a corner and so were dozens of wooden boards painted in white which had directions written in red colour to help those attending the event.
A huge media stand has been set up to the right of the stage, covered in a green coloured carpet. In the lawns behind the forecourt, several maroon coloured tents have been put up as this is where the dignitaries would be treated to a vegetarian high tea.
Being a high profile event, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has stationed a couple of mini vans to fumigate the whole premises after regular intervals to tackle the threat of dengue.
Narendra Modi, who will be sworn-in as India’s 14th prime minister, will be the third prime minister to take oath in the expansive forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. It is the first time in India’s history that leaders from neighbouring countries have been invited to the swearing-in ceremony of an Indian prime minister. IANS