Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver his first address to the nation from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on 68th Independence Day on Friday. Expectations are high that Modi will make some major announcements in his maiden address. This will be perhaps the first time after being sworn in as Prime Minister that Narendra Modi will address the people directly.

There are speculations that Narendra Modi may not follow the prepared text and may instead speak impromptu like his Lok Sabha campaign days. Over the years Prime Ministers have used the platform to list the achievements of their government and the course ahead. Since Narendra Modi led BJP government was voted to power in May this year with huge expectations, the first address by the BJP leader is being looked forward eagerly.

In a first, around 10,000 members of the general public will be present at the historic Red Fort to witness Prime Minister Narendra Modi deliver his maiden Independence Day address to the nation.

Delhi BJP also appealed to the residents of the national capital to join the Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort in large numbers. Saying it has been a dream of all Indians to hear Narendra Modi deliver the Prime Minister’s Independence Day address from the ramparts of Red Fort, the Delhi BJP thanked the Centre for allowing the common man to attend the August 15 ceremony at the historic monument.

And, in more joy for the public, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) will provide a free ride to all commuters in all its buses in the national capital between 6 A.M. and 10 A.M. on August 15 that they may come from any nook and corner of the city to be a part of Independence Day celebrations.

Arrangements are being made to provide seating for around 10,000 people in front of the historic Mughal-era monument. The members of the public will be seated to the right of the Red Fort in the public enclosure, next to around the same number of schoolchildren clad in colours of the tricolour.

Frequency of DTC buses will be increased around Red Fort in order to facilitate ease of access for those coming to witness the Independence Day function. The visitors, however, will not be allowed to carry mobile phones, cameras, binoculars, handbags, briefcases, cigarette lighters, transistors, tiffin boxes, water bottles, lunch boxes, etc. to the venue and would be subjected to heavy security checks.

Given the security threat to Prime Minister Modi from several terrorist outfits, the security apparatus for the Independence Day celebrations has been scaled up this time. A multi-layered security cover consisting of thousands of armed personnel will keep a hawk-eyed vigil to pre-empt any possible terror strikes in the city.

A ground-to-air security apparatus will be put in place, especially near Red Fort. Heightened security will also be in place along the route to be taken by the Prime Minister’s cavalcade and around Rajghat, where he will lay a wreath at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi. Thousands of Delhi Police and paramilitary personnel will be deployed at marketplaces, the airport, railway stations, inter-state bus terminals, metro stations and places of strategic importance.

And, besides the patrolling of the skies by helicopters, an air defence mechanism will also be put in place around the venue. Around 5,000 personnel of Delhi Police will be deployed for security, frisking and traffic management in and around the venue. Security personnel from the central paramilitary forces will be also be pressed into service.

Sharpshooters of NSG and spotters will be deployed on the high-rises near the 17th century Mughal fort, officials said. Specialised units like Quick Reaction Teams, SWAT and Vajra are being deployed with commando units of Delhi Police to be placed at strategic locations, police said.

Security agencies are constantly reviewing the arrangements at Red Fort and have zeroed in on the ‘safe houses’ where the Prime Minister and other leaders could be taken in case of a terrorist strike, officials added.