New Delhi: India on Friday celebrated its 69th Republic Day as the Rajpath, the capital’s main promenade, came alive with march pasts and colourful tableaux to showcase the country’s military might, cultural legacy and its initiatives, with 10 Asean leaders as chief guests watching the proceedings.
The parade ceremony commenced with Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying the wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate to pay homage to the fallen soldier.
President Ram Nath Kovind took his first Republic Day salute from various wings of the Indian Army, the Air Force and the Navy.
Earlier, Kovind presented the Ashok Chakra – India’s highest peace-time gallantry award – to Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala’s widow and mother. The 31-year-old IAF commando was killed in an anti-terror operation in Jammu and Kashmir last year that also led to the killing of six terrorists.
The parade was commanded by Lt. General Asit Mistry, General Officer Commanding, Headquarters Delhi Area. Major General Rajpal Punia, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Delhi Area was the parade second-in-command.
The marching contingents started with flag bearer contingent displaying the Asean and 10 Asean countries’ flags followed by the Indian Army Band drawn from 39 Gorkha Training Centre and 1 EME Centre.
India for the first time in its history of republic hosted 10 heads of state or government of the Asean countries as guests of honour for the annual parade.
The Indian Army’s T-90 tank (Bhishma), Ballway Machine Pikate (II/IIK), Brahmos Missile System, weapon locating radar (Swathi), bridge laying tank T-72, mobile base transceiver station and Akash weapon system were the main draw in the mechanised columns.
The marching contingent of the Army included horse-mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry, the Punjab Regiment, Maratha Light Infantry, the Dogra Regiment, Ladakh Scouts, the Regiment of Artillery and 123 Infantry Battalion – Territorial Army (Grenadiers) followed by the tableau of ex-Servicemen.
The marching contingent of the Navy comprised 144 young sailors led by Lieutenant Tushar Gautam.
The Indian Air Force contingent also had 144 men led by Squadron Leader Attal Singh Shekhon.
The paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces included the Border Security Force marching as well as Camel Contingents, Indian Coast Guard, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo Tibetan Border Police, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme.