Republic Day Parade: Latest guns and women power – new symbols of India’s military might to be displayed for the first time

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New Delhi | Published: January 23, 2019 10:04:30 PM

For the first time, an all-women contingent of a paramilitary force will participate in the parade where Assam Rifles contingent, country’s oldest paramilitary force, will be led by Major Khushboo Kanwar.

DRDO, Republic Day, Republic Day Parade, Indian military, Air Missile, India Army, india newsRepublic Day Parade (Representational image: PIB)

Amongst two defence projects of Defence Research Development Organisation’s (DRDO) –Medium Range Surface to Air Missile and Arjun Armoured Recovery and Repair Vehicle, presently under trial, India Army’s ‘surface mine clearing system’ are some of the `firsts’ during the 70th Republic Day Parade on Saturday. Besides four veterans who will participate in the parade for the first time, also for the first time, during the flypast by the Indian Air Force (IAF), An-32 transport aircraft will be flying on biofuel. Another major attraction of the parade will be the showcasing of the military’s women power.

For the first time, an all-women contingent of a paramilitary force will participate in the parade where Assam Rifles contingent, country’s oldest paramilitary force, will be led by Major Khushboo Kanwar.

Briefing the media at the end of the parade’s full dress rehearsal, Maj Gen Rajpal Punia, second-in-command of the Republic Day parade, said, “The Army will for the first time showcase its new artillery guns at the parade. The M777 A2 ultra-light howitzers of the US-based BAE Systems which was inducted last November will be seen at the parade. Also, K9 Vajra self-propelled guns, which are being manufactured by L&T under the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme, will be shown at the parade.”

In another first, `Sankhnaad’— a martial tune created for the Indian armed forces to be played by three contingents for the first time in the parade. And the theme of 22 tableaux this time will be 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi. The Assam Rifles had started inducting women riflemen in the force since 2015. The first batch of 124 women passed out in April 2016. According to Maj Kanwar, there are 220 mahila riflemen in the force. Around 33% of them are from the northeast and rest from other parts of the country.

Some of the women in the contingent are Vir Mahilas (widows of martyred soldiers) who are continuing the legacy of their husbands. A first-generation officer inducted in the Army in 2016, Lt Bhavana Kasturi will lead a contingent of Army Service Corps (ASC) comprising 144 men. The ASC, which handles the logistic support function of the Army, is participating in the parade after a gap of 23 years.

Last but not the least, Capt Shikha Surabhi, will be part of the Army’s daredevil’s motorcycle team of 33 men riding on nine bikes in a pyramid formation. She will perform the stunt by standing on the moving motorcycle and will ride it in front of a team.

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