New Delhi: India geared up for its 63rd Republic Day celebrations with the security apparatus firmed up across the nation for a tight vigil amid a boycott call by Maoist rebels in their strongholds. The banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) announced that it would boycott and disrupt Republic Day celebrations in Chhattisgarh, prompting the authorities to increase security.
Police and paramilitary forces have been relocated to forested areas which are Maoist strongholds and are vulnerable to attacks. Also, extra troopers have been deployed in and around key government installations, an officer at the Chattisgarh police headquarters in Raipur told . Security was also beefed up at the residences of the chief minister and ministers, the governor s house and the state secretariat. Chhattisgarh is one of the worst insurgency-hit states of the country.
Security was tightened across Odisha with authorities wary of a retaliatory strike by Maoists after the recent arrest of one of their top leaders, Dhiren Mahato alias Mahru alias Girish, who was nabbed Tuesday from a village in Bargarh district, over 350 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.
Although collectors of all the 30 districts of the state have been told to step up vigil, officials in Maoist-hit districts have been told to remain extra cautious, a police officer told IANS. The rebels are active in more than half the districts of the state. Maoists have already circulated posters and banners in their strongholds appealing to people to boycott the Republic Day celebrations Thursday and observe it as a black day.
The security in all the states and union territories has been tightened including in northeast and Jammu and Kashmir. The capital, which will witness the main event of the celebrations Thursday, has been kept on high alert with authorities tightening the ground-to-air security to thwart any untoward incident, home ministry sources said.
Checking and frisking at Metro and railway stations and bus terminals has been increased and security beefed up at the Delhi airport. Sources said over 25,000 security personnel, including from police, paramilitary and National Security Guard sharpshooters, have been deployed in the city in the run-up to secure the Republic Day parade which will have Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as the chief guest.
The Delhi airspace will be closed for an hour Thursday from 11.15 a.m., the source said. Besides, sharpshooters armed with sniper rifles have been deployed at high-rise buildings to keep a tight vigil on the movement on the eight kilometre Rajpath-Red Fort route.
The route from where the parade passes displaying India s military might and its cultural diversity has also been dotted by 160 CCTVs. The sources said Delhi Police commandos have been deployed on the Republic Day parade route. Helicopters of the Indian Air Force will give aerial cover to the parade. Delhi Police has also set up more checking points and barricades to keep a vigil on the capital roads and has intensified frisking.