New Delhi: The on-going Commonwealth Games have turned the city into a fortress. Armed security personnel are a common sight. And the common man being frisked and baggage scans at various places are routine.
For the opening ceremony of the Games, the whole city was literally shut down, including commercial establishments and markets. It is going to be the same for the closing ceremony on 14 October.
According to news reports, about 100,000 military and security personnel, including central paramilitary forces, are on duty in the city. All Games venues are guarded by National Security Guard (NSG), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, who have been put at the disposal of the Delhi Police. CISF is also responsible for the security at Metro stations.
Police forces from 12 states, including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, are also assisting the Delhi Police.
One Delhi Police constable, who did not wish to be named, said it was difficult to say how many units or battalions had been deployed. “At the end of the day, we are Indians, and we’ll make sure that the Games go peacefully,” he said.
Entry to the Games venues if you have an accreditation card is quick and easy with routine checks. Different gates at venues have been allotted for different categories.
The police and security personnel at times double up as navigators, in giving directions to spectators.
Woman constable Lata Devi from Haryana recounts an incident at RK Khanna Tennis Stadium, “One lady, a few days back, came with an iPod, which is not allowed. She argued with the security in-charge here to carry it inside. Later on, we returned her iPod but told her clearly not to carry it in future to any venue. We are not here to take responsibility of such items.”
The items confiscated mostly include coins, cigarettes, match boxes, safety pins and chewing gum. On one occasion, a journalist was not allowed to take her pen inside. But on the intervention of the security in-charge, she was allowed in—with the pen.
Spectators have complained that entry into venues is cumbersome and takes time with all the security protocols in place. “While searching through my wallet, they found a coin in one of the pockets. Though I didn’t carry any prohibited item, but this one coin missed my eye. They confiscated it,” says Poonam Gupta, a spectator at RK Khanna Tennis Stadium.