India on Thursday celebrated its 68th Republic Day with great joy and zeal. While on the one hand, the India’s military prowess and achievements in various fields was showcased on the other was the display of state-of- the-art defence and cultural platforms left the audience mesmerised.
A major attraction of this year’s parade was a 149-member UAE contingent led by Lt Col Abood Musabeh Abood Musabeh Alghfeli, consisting of the UAE Presidential Guard, the Air Force, the Navy and Army contingent led by a UAE band consisting of 35 musicians marching on Rajpath and presenting a ceremonial salute to President Pranab Mukherjee.
For the first time, a contingent of the National Security Guard (NSG), popularly known as Black Cat Commandoes, took part in the parade on Rajpath. The parade also saw the fly-past of three LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Tejas Aircraft flying at a height of 300 meters from ground in ‘Vic’ formation and the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) developed by Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).
The colourful Border Security Force (BSF) camel regiment led by Deputy Commandant Kuldeep Seervi also took part in the parade. The Indian Army’s missile firing capability, T-90 ‘Bhishma’ tank, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP-2K, Mobile Autonomous Launcher of the BrahMos Missile System, Weapon Locating Raddar ‘Swathi’, Akash Weapon System, CBRN Recconnnaisance Vehicle and Dhanush Gun System was the main draw among the mechanised columns.
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The Indian Air Force tableau rolled down Rajpath with the theme “Air Dominance Through Network Centric Operations” displaying the scaled down models of Su-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, AWACS, UAV, Apache and Communication Sattelite.
The Indian Navy tableau theme was ‘Indian Navy – Professional Force-Anchoring Stability, Security and National Prosperity’ showcasing lethal marine commandoes proceeding for action, the indigenously built Kolkata Class Destroyer and the Kalvari Class next generation attack submarines.
The marching contingents of army included horse-mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry, the Machanised Infantry Regiment, the Bihar Regiment, the 39 Gorkha Training Centre, 58 Gorkha Training Centre, the Madras Engineering Group and Centre and 103 Infantry Battalion (Territoral Army) Sikh Light Infatry. The marching contingent of Indian Navy comprising 144 young sailors was led by Lieutenant Aparna Nair, while the Indian Air Force contingent was led by Squadran Leader Attal Singh Shekhon.
The Tricolour was unfurled in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee and followed by traditional 21 gun salute. President Mukherjee also posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra to Havildar Hangpan Dada who died in Kupwara on May 27 after killing three terrorists.
The award was received by his wife Chasen Lowang Dada. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was the chief guest of the occasion and was accompanied by a delegation of ministers. Tableaux from 17 States and Union Territory, six central ministries and departments displayed varied historical, art and cultural heritage of the country.
Twenty one of the twenty five children selected for the National Bravery Award–2016 also participate in the parade. The flypast included a ‘Chakra’ formation, comprising three Mi-35 helicopters in ‘Vic’ formation, followed by the ‘Hercules’ formation comprising three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in ‘Vic’ formation.
It was followed by ‘Netra’ the Airborne Early Warning and Control System Aircraft also known as “Eye in the Sky” followed. Then ‘Trishul’ formation comprising three Su-30 MKIs of No. 24 Squadron also flied over the Rajpath. The flypast concluded with another Su-30 MKI carrying out a ‘Vertical Charlie’ manoeuvre over the saluting dais.