Varanasi, Dec 22: Stringent security measures are in place across this ancient temple town today in view of the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is scheduled to take part in a cultural festival, flag off a number of projects and interact with booth-level BJP workers of his parliamentary constituency. The PM arrived here at around 10:30 AM.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police Nitin Tiwari, more than 5,000 security personnel have been pressed into service to ensure fool-proof security arrangements during the nearly five-hour-long period the Prime Minister is likely to spend in the city. He said 12 SP rank officials, 17 Additional SPs and 42 Deputy SPs would be supervising constables of state police and Provincial Armed Constabulary besides jawans from central paramilitary forces who have been deployed in every nook and corner of the city. The security arrangements have been put in place in consultation with the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) which is directly responsible for the Prime Ministers security. An SPG team has been camping in the city since Sunday and regularly inspecting the venues of functions to be attended by the Prime Minister besides holding meetings with administrative officials here in connection with security arrangements.
Heavy restrictions have been imposed on vehicular traffic which will remain in place until the Prime Ministers departure which is scheduled at around 3 P.M. Barricades have been placed at nearly 400 spots across the city. At the sprawling Diesel Locomotive Works premises, where will interact with party workers, the overhead water tank has been converted into a temporary watch tower with nearly a dozen policemen perched atop.
Sniffer dogs and bomb disposal squad had surveyed the ground where the function is to be held. This is the Prime Minister's first visit to his Lok Sabha constituency since demonetisation which is expected to become a major issue in the upcoming assembly polls in view of the inconvenience caused to people from all walks of life due to shortage of currency.
Notably, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, one of the most vehement critics of the move who had also unsuccessfully contested against Modi from here in the 2014 general elections had held a rally in the city earlier this month attacking the government on the issue. The Modi government as well as the BJP have been countering the criticisms from opposition parties asserting that it was a bold step taken with a view to eliminating black money and the menace of counterfeit currency.