The state government’s decision to hold the Republic Day parade at Marine Drive this year on the lines of the processionat Rajpath in the nation’s Capital has raised serious securityconcerns among the ranks of the state and city police.
The Mumbai Police Commissioner has also filed an adverse report, citing the difficulties that the police force would face in trying to protect thousands of Mumbaikars who will throng the stretch to watch the parade tomorrow.
Till last year, the Republic Day parade in the city would commence at Shivaji Park, which can accommodate 50,000 people. Sources revealed that henceforth, the government plans to hold both Republic Day and Independence Day parades at Marine Drive.
“We are expecting more than 50,000 people, and manning this crowd is going to be a tough task. Their security is our prime concern and since the government has decided on the venue, we have no option but to secure the people,” said a senior level officer, on condition of anonymity.
Following the government’s decision, top police officials also expressed their reservations at a meeting chaired by Home Minister RR Patil. Almost a month ago, when the Mumbai Police was informed about the parade, they had also filed a detailed report on the difficulties the department would face in trying to protect the spectators.
Sources revealed that the Mumbai Police in its report had mentioned that the presence of the state’s top politicians and bureaucrats at the venue would further expose it to security risks. Moreover, cops fear that it will be a daunting task to control crowds that are sprawled across the entire 4.23-km stretch, exposed to the sea.
With the government refusing to reconsider or revise its decision, the police have chalked out a detailed security plan. Additional Commissioner of Police Krishna Prakash said, “We have taken adequate precautions and have foolproof bandobast for the parade.”
For the first time, even dignitaries will not be allowed to carry anything to the venue. Taking lessons from attacks in the past, the police have asked the home department to ban backpacks, and have also mentioned the ban in the invitations cards sent to invitees.
Meanwhile, south Mumbai has been put on high alert. No policeman in the city will be on leave tomorrow. Even cops in the Crime Branch and other branches will be on stand-by for emergencies. More than 2,000 constables have been deployed, besides around eight IPS officers. The State Reserve Police Force and Quick Response Team will also be pressed into service.
“It has been a tough month for us. First, we were put on alert on New Year’s Eve. Then, we had to beef up security following the demise of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohra community.
This was followed by the Mumbai Marathon, and now we have the Republic Day parade. Some of our officers have not gone home for a week now,” said an officer from Marine Drive police station.
Ongoing rehearsals for the parade every morning have been giving grief to motorists and school-going children.
The number of constables to be deployed at the stretch tomorrow
Number of people expected at Marine Drive on Republic Day