Security high in sea, air, land for Mumbai grand finale

March 31st, 2011 - 4:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Mumbai, March 31 (IANS) Besides aerial and sea surveillance, over a thousand policemen have been posted at the Wankhede Stadium for the World Cup final Saturday in a massive security operation, said to be the biggest here since US President Barack Obama’s visit last year.

A multi-agency security cover has been organised in Mumbai for the much-awaited India-Sri Lanka match, officials said. Considering recent reports that some terrorists may attempt to penetrate the stadium as spectators, police are taking no chances.

Contingents of Mumbai Police, State Reserve Police Force, Rapid Action Force, local arms unit, crack commandos of Force One, Central Industrial Security Force, Quick Reaction Team - all have been carrying out exercises ahead of the match.

A unit of the National Security Guard (NSG), the Black Cat commandos, also has been kept on alert to handle any eventuality. The navy and the air force have been kept in the loop about security arrangements, officials said.

Home Minister R.R. Patil and top police and home department officials will make another trip to Wankhede Stadium, near Churchgate station, later Thursday for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

Over a thousand policemen have been posted in and around the stadium premises in the past one week, turning it into a fortress.

Outside, several layers of security are in place as, besides the two finalist teams, managers, and their officials, visiting VVIPs and others from around the world are expected for the match.

Several VVIPs arriving for the game are expected to put up at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel in Colaba, around 2 km from the venue.

The Indian and Sri Lankan team members will tentatively stay at the Taj and the Hotel Trident-Oberoi in Nariman Point, around a kilometre from the stadium, say police officials.

Both hotels are on the Arabian Sea front and were targeted during the Nov 26, 2008, Mumbai attack by terrorists who sneaked into the western megapolis by the sea route. The stadium is also near the s sea and all the targeted areas during 26/11 fall within a four-km radius.

Accordingly, the authorities have mounted aerial and sea security operations for the final match. There is a proposal pending to declare the south Mumbai area as a ‘no-fly zone’ on D-day.

Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik has been personally supervising the security arrangements at the stadium and visiting it almost daily to review the situation.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations) R. Vatkar told mediapersons that “massive security arrangements are in order for the match”.

A presentation on the security set-up was made to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Home Minister Patil earlier this week.

Besides police, other security outfits have conducted a series of mock drills, crowd control both before and after the match and other aspects, to make the grand finale a smooth affair.

For providing inputs to the field agencies, the city police’s Special Branch, State Intelligence Department, Intelligence Bureau, Anti-Terrorism Squad are coordinating among themselves.

Around 500 police sub-inspectors (PSIs) posted out of Mumbai have been summoned for security duties in Mumbai during the weekend. Mumbai has a shortage of nearly 2,000 PSIs and all these summoned officers have the experience of serving the city in the past.

All around the city and suburbs, vital bridges and flyovers, all entry and exit points to the city, nakabandis are organised round the clock.

Random checks are being carried out in hotels in the city and suburbs as well as on the outskirts of Mumbai to detect any shady characters.

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