press club of india, Indian Tehalka News
Just five minutes of exclusivity for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cavalcade mutated into a three-hour gridlock for the Capital’s drivers on Thursday morning.
Traffic headed to and from the Indira Gandhi International Airport remained affected almost till midday with a cascading effect on three important routes merging with National Highway-8 at Dhaula Kuan. Such was the state of affairs a good three hours after the Delhi Police chose to suspend all vehicular movement for 7 km on a single carriageway so that Mr. Modi could reach his 7 Race Course Road residence well in time for a Cabinet meeting after his trip abroad.
Highly-placed police sources admitted to The Hindu that the inconvenience experienced by the Capital’s drivers on Thursday was the direct consequence of the Prime Minister’s Office’s (PMO) insistence on “keeping the PM’s route a secret till the last moment”, “allowing a coterie of other VIPs to travel with him at a moment’s notice” and “being impervious to suggestions of probable routes that would result in least inconvenience to normal traffic unlike the previous government”.
“Believe it or not, the arrangement we put in place for his movement on Thursday had half the magnitude of preparations we were used to before the beginning of this month,” said a senior police officer.
“Since he was elected, the PMO made us put in place VIP movement protocol that is only used for important foreign dignitaries – complete suspension of traffic on two carriageways wherever the PM went,” the officer said, adding that the first time the said protocol had been invoked was during the then Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Capital in 2003.
The next time the protocol had been invoked was during United States President Barack Obama’s visit to Delhi in November 2010.
“We were initially used to putting such arrangement in place only when there was a severe threat perception to a VIP. But after his election, the PMO insisted that we arrange it at a moment’s notice, as and when told. It was only at the beginning of this month that the PMO allowed us to relax the arrangement a bit,” another officer said.
“At the end of the day, we’re just doing our job; we must follow whatever instructions are passed down to us since there can be no compromise with the PM’s security, though he can actually travel via Pawan Hans helicopters for seamless movement and in the interest of normal traffic,” the officer added.
From : The Hindu