New Delhi: The security agencies have advised that Prime Minister Narendra Modi address the nation from within a bulletproof enclosure at Red Fort this Independence Day. Intelligence agencies and the Special Protection Group are learnt to have made a strong pitch to national security adviser Ajit Doval in this regard.
Highly-placed sources told TOI that they hoped the PM wouldn’t ignore the advisory this time as the threat perception was “extremely high”. Should the PM heed the caution, it might be the first time he would be allowing this kind of security around him. Last year and the year before, Modi, in a last-minute decision, had decided to do away with the bulletproof enclosure while giving his speech.
A senior officer said the recommendation wasn’t just the fallout of the Kashmir unrest or the increasing infiltration bids from across the border; it was also because the agencies had intercepted communication about the use of drones to breach the PM’s security cordon. Another contributing factor was the growing menace of ISIS-led terror attacks across the globe.
Central intelligence agencies informed the SPG and anti-terror units a few weeks ago about the possibility of coordinated attacks on August 15 and a higher possibility of a lonewolf attack.
Two inputs about al-Qaida and ISIS planning to target Army and police establishments have already been shared. The police, therefore, have chalked out an “unprecedented security arrangement” this time.
Sources said PM speaking from within bulletproof enclosures became a tradition after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. But in 2014, Modi had bucked this trend in his maiden Independence Day speech as PM. The surprised security agencies had to switch to a plan B in which a virtual cover comprising spotters was thrown around in a strategic manner.
This year, too, several drills have been carried out, and commandos and spotters have been deployed at strategic locations to keep the PM out of tthe range of most short and long-range weapons. The innermost cordon has been specially trained in this aspect.
Apart from Islamic State and al Qaida, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and splinter groups like Hizbul Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Jehadi-Islami have been plotting to target Modi.
Sources said around 5,000 men of SPG, IB, paramilitary forces and Delhi Police had secured the area covering Red Fort alone, and drones were keeping an eye from the sky.