India reviews security over Olympic torch route

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New Delhi, Apr 15: India today asserted that it was committed to ensuring safe passage for the Beijing Olympic torch to its next destination and reviewed arrangements to provide foolproof security to the flame relay here on April 17.

''We are committed to the safe passage of the Olympic torch to its next destination. It is our responsibility to send the Olympic torch to its next destination with full respect after successful relay. All efforts are being made by the Central government, Home Ministry, police and administration to ensure the safety of the torch. In view of security concerns all precautions have been taken for the smooth running of the Olympic torch,'' Minister of State for Home Shakeel Ahmad told mediapersons here. Mr Ahmad, who assumed office this morning, refused to divulge the details of the security arrangements for the torch relay or who all would participate in it.

The torch relay on April 17 has been shortened this time in view of threat from Tibetan protestors. The Minister also refused to comment over the involvement of Chinese guards in the security of the torch stating that logistics could not be revealed due to security reasons.

Stating that India was sympathetic towards the democratic rights of Tibetans, he said that was a different issue.

Olympic games is the biggest sports event of the world and as a nation India has commitment to ensuring safe passage to the Olympic torch which it would fulfil at all cost, he said.

Pointing out that India had given refuge to the Dalai Lama and it was normal for a guest not to participate in any political actitivities in its host country, he said all steps would be taken to ensure that the Olympic torch run was not disrupted.

Regarding former Bureau of Police Research and Development DGP Kiran Bedi refusing to participate in the torch relay due to Delhi being converted into a fortress, Mr Ahmad said he could not comment on it as ensuring security was the responsibility of the police and as a former police officer she should understand the role and responsibility of the force and how difficult it is to fulfil those commitments.

Meanwhile, a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta reviewed security arrangements for the flame.

The hour-long meeting discussed the arrangements at length.

The meeting was attended by Delhi Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal, Indian Olympic Association General Secretary Randhir Singh and senior officials of the Home Ministry including Assistant Secretary (Security) Anita Chowdhury, Joint Secretary (Police Modernisation) and officials of the Intelligence Bureau. Mr Dadwal said everything was under control and there was no cause of any concern.

Mr Randhir Singh said all security concerns have been addressed and he was confident of the successful completion of the torch relay.

This was the second meeting of the Home Ministry chaired by the Home Secretary to review the security of the Olympic torch relay.

Earlier, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan had also reviewed the security following concerns expressed by the Chinese Government regarding the safety of the flame in view of protests by pro-Tibet demonstrators in Paris and London and scaling of wall of the Chinese embassy here.

The Vijay Chowk has been converted into a fortress with heavy deployment of police and security personnel along with riot control and bomb disposal squads. Barricades have been put to prevent any breach of security by the protestors.

UNI

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