Military might, ‘mini-India’ on display at 62nd Republic Day

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NEW DELHI - The 62nd Republic Day on Wednesday had ‘mini-India’ in itself with colourful tableaux depicting the innumerable hues of the country’s diversity, in addition to a vibrant performance by students and armed forces in full battle regalia.

The parade, which marched down from Raisina Hills to the Red Fort, showcased India’s ‘unity in diversity’ and the military might as thousands of spectators cheered the marching contingents and the mechanised columns.

The well turned out and synchronised military and police contingents led by General Officer Commanding (Delhi) Major General Manvendra Singh marched proudly to the lilting tunes of bands through the Rajpath where President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces took the salute.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was the chief guest on the occasion, watched the march-past.

Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony, Finance Minister Pranab Mukhrejee and the country’s top political and military brass were also present on the occasion.

Before the parade began, the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force laid wreaths at ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’, the British-era World War-I memorial at India Gate, where an eternal flame burns in memory of those who laid down their lives while defending the nation’s frontiers

The parade began after President Patil and her Indonesian counterpart arrived at the Rajpath escorted by the President’s 46 bodyguards riding well-trained and impeccably- bedecked horses.

After President Patil unfurled the tricolour and a customary 21-gun salute, an Army doctor Major Laishram Jyotin Singh was awarded posthumously the highest peacetime gallantry award-the Ashok Chakra-for his bravery while fighting militants during an attack on Indians in Kabul. He was the first Army doctor receiving Ashok Chakra.

Four Mi-17 helicopters then zoomed in from the western skies and showered flower petals on the spectators, signalling the beginning of the parade followed by the winners of the Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra and mounted columns of 61 Cavalry.

The national capital was under a blanket of security on the Republic Day today as thousands of armed personnel kept a tight vigil while Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and helicopters scanned the city from above.

Snipers with sophisticated arms and binoculars were on rooftops while hundreds of police personnel kept the eight-kilometer parade route from Rajpath to Red Fort under their watch to ensure that nothing untoward happened.

Around 35,000 police personnel, including 15,000 from paramilitary forces and elite National Security Guards (NSG) were deployed across the city in the run-up to the national celebrations. (ANI)

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