A lean Independence Day at the Red Fort
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, New Delhi is gearing up for muted Independence Day celebrations this weekend.
On August 15, Saturday, the Red Fort is going to witness a rather somber Independence Day, thanks to all the precautionary measures being taken in light of the pandemic. The number of people participating in and witnessing the festivities will be dramatically reduced in order to maintain crowd control.
The Prime Minister is expected to arrive at the venue by 7.21 am on Saturday, unfurling the flag at 7.30 am accompanied by the national anthem and followed by a 45-90-minute speech. The event will also consist of a guard of honour by the armed forces – with just 22 officers from the army, air force and navy – and the 21-gun salute. Tri-coloured balloons will be released at the end.
The usual cheer brought on by the schoolchildren will be missing; in previous years there used to be as many as 3500 children taking part, but this year there will be none. Additionally, only 500 National Cadet Corps will be allowed. Barely 120 guests will be invited to witness the events from the ramparts instead of the 300-500 guests who are usually invited.
Initially, there was a proposal not to allow the general public to attend but instead invite coronawarriors who have recovered from the illness. However, this seems to have been relaxed with Delhi Police saying limited number of people will be allowed, but they should refrain from attending if they had experienced COVID-like symptoms in the past two weeks. They are also required at all time to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Home Ministry and Health Ministry.
Markings at the entry gate and controlling officers and ushers will regulate the crowd and ensure adequate physical distancing. Police personnel involved in frisking will be donning the PPE. Only those who have recovered from or tested negative for coronavirus will be allowed to perform these roles. Around 350 Delhi Police personnel who are taking part in the programme have been quarantined as a precaution at a Delhi Cantonment. Others who are participating have been told to restrict their movement, not leaving home except for rehearsals. Their family members and domestic help are also supposed to be under quarantine. A full-dress rehearsal will take place at the venue on Thursday.