DGP Rajeev Kumar (left) and Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey inspect preparations, including a giant pandal (top) for the PM’s programme, fire safety gear (above left) and beautification drive, at Prabhat Tara Ground in Dhurwa on Tuesday. (Prashant Mitra)
A phalanx of 3,000 policemen, including the Jharkhand Jaguars, a 25-member team from the elite Special Protection Group, three sanitised helipads with four choppers and two motorcades of total 40 vehicles have formed the backbone of extensive security for the Prime Minister’s proposed hour-long visit to Ranchi on Thursday.
Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate a slew of government projects and address a public meeting at Prabhat Tara Ground, near the JSCA stadium in Dhurwa, and the district administration is not ready to risk a chance, especially when the venue is 10km off Sithio village from where four suspects of the Patna serial blasts were arrested recently.
Tuesday saw DGP Rajeev Kumar, IG M.S. Bhatia, SSP Prabhat Kumar, SP (city) Anoop Birtharay, deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey and several other police and administrative officers doing a recce of the ground and plugging gaps for foolproof security.
That there was no scope for laxity was evident when constables did not even allow the wife of a CISF jawan to take a short cut across Prabhat Tara Ground with her ailing son, let alone grant a pass to mediapersons and others.
The woman, who was returning from HEC hospital around 11.15am, pleaded with the men in khaki that she would have to take a kilometre-long detour to reach home if they did not let her through. To this, a constable curtly said: “SPG aur SSP ka adesh hai (By orders of the SPG and SSP, you cannot enter the ground).”
To ease her troubles, an inspector offered the concerned mother a lift in a police vehicle, but she preferred to walk perhaps realising how important it was to stay off the ground.
About a kilometre away from the programme venue is a campus of Jharkhand High Court. Inside, three helipads and a 150-metre-long and four-metre-wide cement-concrete, connecting the helipads to the gate, was under construction on Tuesday. As 100-odd workers raced against time in high noon, deputy commissioner Choubey supervised the job.
According to plan, the Prime Minister after landing at Birsa Munda Airport will take a 10-minute helicopter ride to this campus and then ride a bulletproof car to Prabhat Tara Ground. The helipad campus has been secured by the district armed police equipped with modern firearms like the Insas rifle.
City SP Anoop Birtharay said choppers did a successful trial landing at 3pm on Tuesday. “Two choppers were used for the trial although there will be four on the day of the PM’s visit. Three will be for security purposes, including ferrying the PM, and the fourth will be on standby. There will be two motorcades of 20 vehicles each at Birsa Munda Airport and the helipad. Four bulletproof cars have reached the city.”
The highly geared SPG, which forms the inner security circle for the Prime Minister, too has arrived in Ranchi led by a DIG-rank and three AIG-rank officers.
Deputy commissioner Choubey said they were leaving no stone unturned to ensure foolproof security. “Besides preparations at ground level, efforts are being made to make the 700 VIPs expected at the venue feel safe. They have been asked not to share their invitation cards or give lift to anyone having no pass for the programme. The VIPs are also expected to carry a photo ID.”
He added that mobile phones would be allowed after proper checking, but other personal belongings like umbrellas and handbags were strict no-no.
SP Birtharay said the 3,000 men in uniform from district armed police, Jharkhand Jaguar, JAP and IRB would include 10 SPs and 50 DSP-rank officers. “Apart from them, there will be bomb disposal squads. Sanitisation work began today (Tuesday) and will continue till August 21 (Thursday).”