Bullet-proof screen removed at 2 am, anxious moments for backup staff


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The absence of the bullet-proof screen around Prime Minister Narendra Modi — as he delivered his maiden speech at Red Fort on Friday — sparked many a debate about his desire to reach out to the audience, to do away with what lies in between to ensure an impeccable presentation.

Barely hours earlier, however, the screen had led to many crossed fingers and frayed nails.

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For, the bullet-proof screen was very much there, secured in place when a Doordarshan team completed its dress rehearsal for the live telecast on August 13, its first with newly imported High Definition (HD) equipment.

But past midnight on Friday, there was a flutter among technicians when they were informed that the bullet-proof screen around the lectern was being removed. These orders evidently came from the Special Protection Group (SPG) and were late as a sign of abundant caution. The instructions were that the screen should only be removed at night and even the Ministry of Defence and Doordarshan teams learnt about the change of plans at around 2 am.

Doordarshan officials said that the removal of the bullet-proof screen led to a “temporary dislocation” of some fibre optic cables laid for the live telecast which gave them quite a few anxious moments.

“The glitch was quickly restored and the signals were tested and re-tested till the early hours of the morning by which time senior Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials also arrived,’’ said one senior Doordarshan official. “But for those few hours on Thursday night, we all had palpitations due to the high-profile nature of the telecast and the sudden removal of the bullet-proof screen.’’

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