New Delhi: The unprecedented security arrangements rivalling Republic Day parade for prime minister Narendra Modi and the accompanying flip-flops by the government on Cleanliness Pledge guidelines on October 2 sent the central government employees and commuters in a tizzy on Wednesday.
CRPF men deployed at Valmiki Sadan in New Delhi’s Valmiki Colony on the eve of Swachh Bharat campaign Manit DNA
A fresh advisory by the government ordered closure of 30 key central government buildings that fall within two kilometre radius from Rajpath, where the PM will take the Swachhta Shapath, from 2pm on October 1 till 10:30am on October 2. Besides South and North Block, where the key ministries of defence, home, finance and PMO are located, the other important offices include Reserve Bank of India, National Stadium and Hyderabad House and Parliament House.
A ground-to-air security cover is in place in the area. Mobile hit teams, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters of NSG will also be deployed besides paramilitary and Delhi Police commandos to secure the area. Dog squads and bomb-disposal squads will sanitise the venue
The officers involved in the security arrangements and those working in government offices for last 30 years say they do not remember such a security clamp down in their living memory.
The only such open air function ever done by a prime minister they remember was during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s birthday in 2003.
But then only two lawns of India Gate and three axis roads – Ashoka Road, Mansingh Road and Rajendra Prasad Road — were shut down for traffic and the rest of the Lutyen’s Delhi was functioning as usual.
Sources said it was Delhi Police’s idea to take security drill to almost the level of Republic Day parade.
“It would have been a better idea for the PM to take oath in some secure place like JL Nehru Stadium or National Stadium where security arrangements can be reduced to bare minimum,” a senior security officer said.
However, a senior Delhi Police officer, defending the decision said that for airborne and sniper threats it was necessary to sanitise area falling within in two kilometre radius of PM’s pledge venue.
“Nearly 25,000 people are expected to throng PM’s pledge venue. We cannot take any chances,” he said.
But what has baffled thousands of government employees more are the frequent changes made by the government for October 2.
The first order that arrived on September 26 asked them to remain present in their respective offices at 9am sharp on October 2 and take the pledge at 9:30 and thereafter clean offices and surroundings. The second letter on the same day asked them to take the oath at 9:45am.
But on Wednesday again another advisory landed on their tables asking them to vacate offices by 2 on October 1 and arrive after 10:30am on October 2.
Most of the government employees were unclear of the Cleanliness Pledge ceremony.
“We have not been told yet when to take the pledge and what would be the programme thereafter. Most probably it is at 12 noon,” said a government employee.
—With agency inputs