NEW DELHI: Police and soldiers were out in force across India on Monday as security was ramped up for Independence Day celebrations held in the shadow of blasts last month in Mumbai which killed 26 people.
A senior home ministry official said security measures were being increased in New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata, as well as Mumbai, where police are probing the July 13 bombs.
The three co-ordinated explosions killed 26 and injured 130, but no group claimed responsibility and detectives have struggled to unearth who was behind the attack.
Suspicion has fallen on two militant groups: the domestic Indian Mujahideen and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was blamed for the siege assault in Mumbai which left 166 people dead in November 2008.
Indian President Pratibha Patil in her customary address on the eve of Independence Day called for heightened vigilance against militant attacks. "The attack in Mumbai last month is yet another grim reminder of the destruction that can be caused by terrorism," she said in a nationwide broadcast on Sunday evening. "We need to be ever-vigilant, to fight this menace which is a global phenomenon," the President added.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) said thousands of police personnel were deployed in the national capital ahead of the celebrations, which mark India's independence from British rule on August 15, 1947. "We are deploying helicopters, CCTV cameras and the other security technologies which are now available," a top Delhi police official who declined to be named told AFP.
Heavily-armed commandos backed by snipers and rapid-action squads will guard the 16th-century Red Fort in the crowded centre of Delhi where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will make his annual speech.
PTI reported "an impregnable ground-to-air security apparatus" was in place around the event. "All arrangements have been made," Joint Police Commissioner Satyendra Garg told reporters. "Localities around the Red Fort have been sanitised and informers deployed to keep a check on any movement of anti-national elements."
Security was also raised in insurgency-hit Kashmir and India's seven restive northeastern states including Manipur, where several separatist groups have asked people to boycott Monday's celebrations.