Republic Day Parade -26th January 2016 at Rajpath, New Delhi

NEW DELHI: India’s military prowess and achievements in different fields, state-of-the-art defence, diverse cultural and social traditions and the government’s emphasis on self-reliance dominated the showcase at New Delhi’s Rajpath on the country’s 67th Republic Day.

For the first time in the history of Republic Day parades, a 123-member French Army contingent marched on Rajpath and present a ceremonial salute to the President Pranab Mukherjee, as guest of honor Francois Hollande watched and clapped seated next to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Another first, after a gap of 26 years, was the march by an Army dog squad drawn from the Remount Veterinary Corps along with their handlers.

Sticking to the 66-year-old tradition, the colourful Border Security Force regiment consisting of 56 camels also marched down the Rajpath. For the first time, the parade also witnessed an ex-servicemen tableau where army veterans showcased their role in nation building.

Among the weapons on display were the army’s missile firing capability T-90 Bhishma tank, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP II (Sarath), Mobile Autonomous Launcher of the BrahMos Missile System, Akash weapon system, Smerch Launcher Vehicles and Integrated Communication Electronic Warfare System.

An Indian Air Force tableau, themed ‘Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations by IAF: In Service of the Nation and Beyond’ showcased models of C-17 Globemaster, C-130 Hercules and MI-17V5 aircraft, emphasising its use in the IAF’s recent rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Yemen and Nepal.

The Indian Navy’s tableau displayed flight deck operations on the new aircraft carrier Vikrant, under construction at the Kochi shipyard, and the indigenously constructed submarine Kalvari by Mazagaon Dock, Mumbai, having a Made in India tag on them.

There was a scintillating display of folk and classical dances and performances by school children from Delhi and other parts of India.

One of the highlights of the two-hour event at Rajpath was the stunts by daredevils belonging to the Army Signal Corps as they made various formations on motorbikes.

The parade ended with flypasts and stunts over Rajpath by Jaguars and other aircraft, though low visibility due to fog made it difficult for thousands of cheering speactators below to enjoy the display.

Delhi was turned into a virtual fortress as an unprecedented ground-to-air security cover with thousands of armed personnel kept a tight vigil for the Republic Day celebrations.

Commandos with light machine guns were deployed at 10 strategic locations and anti-aircraft guns remained positioned at two vantage points in the capital. The entire central Delhi region had nearly 50,000 security personnel drawn from Delhi Police and central security forces guarding every nook and corner.

The VVIP enclosure was put under a multi-layer security ring with Presidential Guards and officials of the Special Protection Group and National Security Guard manning the two inner-most orbits.

 Snipers were put on 45 buildings overlooking Rajpath besides providing a similar cover along all the buildings along the parade route.

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