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Security to match R-Day

New Delhi, May 24: Strict ground-to-air security has been put in place in view of the huge threat perception to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who will be at Narendra Modi’s swearing-in.

Delhi police commissioner B.S. Bassi met senior cops this afternoon after Sharif’s visit was confirmed.

“A huge security cover will be thrown around Sharif and Rajpaksa in particular. Snipers will be deployed on the rooftops of the hotels where they will be staying,” a senior IPS official said.

“This is the first time that security arrangements on this scale have been made for the swearing-in of an Indian Prime Minister.”

Another police officer said: “A three-tier security arrangement on a par with the Republic Day celebrations will be enforced in and around Rashtrapati Bhavan.”

Officers said Sharif, Rajapaksa and the other visiting foreign dignitaries would come with their own security officials, who will form the innermost cordon.

But the outer rings will be manned by Delhi police with support from the central paramilitary forces, the elite National Security Guard, the air force, army and specialised units of the Quick Response Team.

“In November 2010, when US President Barack Obama visited India, the inner ring of his security was made up of 200 American Secret Service agents while the outer ring was manned by the Delhi police,” an officer said.

Some 300 spotters will be deployed to keep a watch on any suspicious activity in sensitive areas.

All routes leading to and out of the dignitaries’ hotels will be placed under surveillance. Over 2,000 police and paramilitary personnel will be deployed in and around each of the five hotels in the Lutyens Zone — Taj Mansingh, Taj Palace, Maurya Sheraton, Leela Palace and Oberoi.

Sources in the security agencies said most of the VVIP foreign guests would be staying at these hotels.

A senior police officer who is part of the team overseeing the security arrangements said Lutyens Delhi would be on a hair trigger from Sunday through Tuesday.

A multi-layer security ring will be thrown around Raisina Hill from Sunday evening. The air force will put in place an air defence system to secure the skies.

“Snipers will be deployed atop all buildings, including residential complexes, along the 10km route from the airport to the Lutyens Zone. Over 30,000 policemen will be deployed in the area surrounding Raisina Hill, Parliament and Rashtrapati Bhavan,” a source said.

NSG and Delhi police commandos and paramilitary jawans will be deployed on the ground to secure the area, as will be personnel from the Special Weapon and Tactics Team (SWAT), an elite Delhi police squad trained to perform high-risk operations.