Instead, the police chief, himself sounding calm and composed, asked the cops not to give in to pressure and to be cool-headed while making decisions. He said that whatever preparations were required were done and it was time to put the training to use.
In the event, the police personnel successfully pulled off what was termed a “security nightmare” without major glitches.
How did this happen? A special commissioner rank officer, one of those at the helm of affairs, explained, “The key was planning. We started off late last year itself with officials of the home and external affairs ministry briefing us. Once the police brass learnt what was required for an event of this scale, a blueprint was drawn up.”
Three key areas were identified at the outset: carcade management, hotel security and venue management. “Managing the motorcade of one country’s head is itself a tough task, handling those of around 20 countries seemed a nightmare,” said another officer. “We began with extensive training alongside the central armed police forces in Noida and elsewhere.”
So effective was this training that from numerous blunders in the first motorcade rehearsal, errors were brought down to single digit in the week prior to the summit and ultimately to zero during the full rehearsal.
For securing the hotels, the police brass divided the establishments in two zones with two special commissioners as their heads. A DCP-rank officer was designated as the venue commander for each hotel. Eventually, the security was so intensive that the venue commanders and the special CPs were aware of every nook and corner of each hotel.
“The venue commanders and his team knew every staffer, including chefs, managers and room boys, by face by the time the summit began,” revealed another special CP. “They were even aware of which employee was positioned on which floor. A zero-area identification drive ensured there were no spots where communication signals were absent.”
On the instructions of Union home minister Amit Shah, the police brass had defined roles for each personnel. “The police chief was very particular about having the right man for the right job. The home ministry even brought in a few special CPs and several DCP-rank officers to Delhi for about a month,” disclosed an officer. Similarly, a joint commissioner-rank officer was put in charge of Bharat Mandapam, while another official of the same rank was made the chief of the CCTV and command room monitoring.
The Special Cell had a massive challenge of liaising with not only the Indian security establishment, but also foreign agencies. “Nothing was done as a formality. The snipers deployed trained in things like shooting in night scenarios at Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh. Markswomen were placed on hotel rooftops only after training,” said an officer. The cops, used to giving updates on WhatsApp, also resorted to secure wireless-set communication.
At a gathering on Monday, commissioner Arora said, “The success of the event has driven home one conclusion: everything became possible due to the shared sense of pride and ownership. I struggle to find the right words to express my appreciation to all of you for your competence, sincerity, capability and meticulous execution, which made the G20 arrangements look easy when it was actually complex and multidimensional.”
The team spirit was in evidence when even an ACP-level officer, in charge of deployment at G20, received accolades from the brass during the gathering.