New Delhi, Apr 17: With few hours left for the Indian leg of the Olympic torch relay, the national capital is witnessing a high-security stretch used for the annual Republic Day parade.
National Security Advisor M K Narayanan is personally supervising the security arrangements to ensure a peaceful torch relay later this afternoon. The torch relay will start from Vijay Chowk and end at India Gate. Apart from 70 torch- bearers, including 45 current and former athletes, around 5,000 school children are expected to participate in the relay.
A three-layer security ring is being provided for the event. According to reports, the Chinese commandos, drawn from the Olympic Holy Flame Protection Group, will form the inner circle of the ring, while commandos of the National Security Guards (NSG) will provide close proximity security for the torch relay.
The outer circle will comprise of personnel of the Delhi Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). NSG and para-military commandos dressed in tracksuits will also form part of the relay. About 175 companies have already been deployed for security arrangement across the city.
Traffic restrictions around the venue will be effective from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., whereas some places around India Gate have been out of bounds to the general public from Wednesday night itself.
The Home Ministry has issued specific instructions to all government buildings overlooking the route of the relay. As per the instructions, no one will be allowed to enter or come out of these buildings, as the buildings will be sealed from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Patel Chowk and Central Secretariat metro stations will remain closed from 2:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The Tibetan activists have also planned a parallel torch relay from Rajghat to Jantar Mantar.
The organisers are expecting the participation of nearly 5,000 people in the relay, including National Democratic Alliance (NDA) convener George Fernandes and Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy.
India has been caught in a swirl of protests by exiled Tibetans since March 10 unrest in Tibet, and despite the Dalai Lama's support for the Beijing Games, the protesters have vowed to disrupt the flame's journey in New Delhi. The protests by exiled Tibetans against the Games being held in Beijing, have forced India to trim the route to a third of the original 9-km distance.