Security agencies are facing a peculiar problem ahead of Independence Day – of ensuring the Red Fort remains monkey-free when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from its ramparts and hoists the tricolour on August 15.
Around 10 trained monkey catchers employed by the municipal corporation and eight by the Delhi government’s district conservator of forest office have been working for the last 48 hours after intelligence agencies flagged the presence of monkeys on the premises during Independence Day rehearsal on Friday morning. Not just Red Fort, officials of the Central district are also combing Rajghat, which too will be visited by the PM, to make sure it is free of monkeys.
Usually, the civic body removes stray dogs from the premises before Independence Day and Delhi Police deploys men who imitate sounds made by langurs to scare monkeys away. “I have been working for the police for the last 10 years. Every Independence Day, they deploy me and seven members of my team at Red Fort for around 10 days. We imitate langur sounds, and the monkeys leave. This time, agencies have also deployed dedicated monkey catchers alongside us,” said Ravi Kumar, a ‘monkey expert’.
Sources said the civic body has deployed members of their veterinary department and around 10 cages, with bananas as bait, have been placed on the premises. On Friday evening, one of the monkeys was caught.
One of the monkey catchers, Md Tasleem, told The Indian Express he has been working with the MCD for the last 15 years, but this is the first time he has been called to Red Fort for work.
“On August 10, we were deployed here and we saw around seven monkeys. We first conducted surveys and generated information about them and have now installed cages,” he said.
This isn’t the only initiative agencies are taking to ensure August 15 passes off smoothly. As first reported by The Indian Express, police have sought the cooperation of around 350 regular kite-flyers from the walled city area to ensure a clear sky for about three hours that morning.
“Independence Day preparation is in full swing and keeping in view the possibility of kite, balloon, chinese lanterns reaching the function area, adequate measures have been taken on ground to prevent any such incident. Kite-flyers have been identified and briefed to restrain from kite flying on August 13 and 15. Kite flying competitions will be allowed in the evening hours of August 15,” Special CP (law and order of northern zone) Dependra Pathak said.