Delhi under multi-layered security cover for Torch relay

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New Delhi, Apr 17 (UNI) Security agencies today laid siege to the National Capital ahead of the Olympic Torch relay, slated for this afternoon, amid fears of disruption by Tibetan or human rights groups.

Several security agencies working under the Union Home Ministry have thrown a massive security blanket in and around Rajpath, the venue for the run, to guard against the possibilities of disruption.

Traffic will be filtered in and around the Rajpath area from 1400 hrs. ''Expect major pile ups as it is a working day... traffic restrictions are in place as far as Aurobindo Chowk and Mathura Road,'' Jt CP (Traffic) S N Srivastava said here.

Taking lessons from the disruption of the relay in Paris and London where the organisers were forced to put out the Torch, a multi-layered security cage has been thrown around the area.

A mixed team of NSG's Black Cat commandos and Delhi Police will form the core layer of the security.

The CRP, ITBP and Delhi Armed Police have already cordoned off an area of 300 meters around the main event venue.

While Tibetan refugees have been allowed to hold a parallel Torch relay near Jantar Mantar, they will not be allowed ''at any cost'' to breach the Delhi Police-CRP joint cordon near Jantar Mantar.

In view of the threat from Tibetan protestors to the Olympic flame, heavy deployment of police and security personnel have been made and all the buildings on the route of the Torch relay would be out of bounds for visitors.

The capital has been converted into a virtual fortress with all the vital installations along the 3.5 km Torch relay route, from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, closed for visitors between 1300 hrs and 1800 hrs.

In order to ensure foolproof security arrangements and strict access control, instructions have been issued not to allow any visitor to enter government buildings overlooking Rajpath, which includes North Block, South Block, Krishi Bhavan, Shastri Bhavan, National Archive, National Museum, Vigyan Bhavan, Nirman Bhavan, Udyog Bhavan, Sena and Vayu Sena Bhavan and Dalhousie Road hutments.

Doors and windows of all these buildings would remain closed and security checks of these would be undertaken.

Interestingly, so far, there have been conflicting versions on the actual timing of the relay. There had also been varying statements on the actual time of the Torch reaching New Delhi from Islamabad.

The Tibetan government in exile has maintained that it was against the disruption of the Torch relay. But at the same time, it clarified that some people (the protestors) did not agree with their stand.

''Those disrupting the relay do not have our support. But people are free not to agree with our stand in a democratic society,'' Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile Prof Samdhong Rinpoche said here Thursday last.

India on Friday had conveyed to China that it will not stop demonstrations by the Tibetans in the country but assured that the protestors would not be allowed to break the law.

New Delhi also conveyed to Beijing that the security of the Olympic Torch relay in India was its responsibility and the government would fully take care of that aspect.

''We have told the Chinese that India is a democracy and the people have a right to demonstrate in this country. Such demonstrations (by the Tibetans) cannot be stopped,'' top diplomatic sources said here.

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