With record attendance and most of the stands brimming with spectators, India on Sunday displayed its military and cultural might at the 65th Republic Day parade on Rajpath.
One of the highlights of the 8-kilometre-long march past was the Navy’s nuclear submarines as well as a display that referred to the impending induction of a submarine launched nuclear missile into the strategic forces.
This was for the first time that a Japanese Prime Minister was the chief guest at the event with Shinzo Abe gracing the occasion. Though the Agni V missile — India’s longest range nuclear strike missile — was not part of the display, several military platforms were showcased at the parade.
Interestingly, the Navy’s contingent was led by a woman officer — Surgeon Lieutenant Ambika Nautiya. Besides, a nuclear submarine tableaux that eluded to a K-15 submarine-launched missiles, the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft was also on display, as was the Arjun MK II tank.
The parade, led by Delhi Area GOC Lt Gen Subroto Mitra, was preceded by the presentation of Ashoka Chakra — India’s highest peacetime gallantry award — to the father of Sub-Inspector K Prasad Babu who died last year while leading an assault of the counter-Maoist Greyhounds force near the Andhra Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border. Babu’s name for the top award was announced on the occasion of Independence Day last year and the award was formally conferred upon him posthumously at the Republic Day parade.
While the initial fly past by choppers that drop flower petals on the crowd at Rajpath could not take place due to bad weather and low visibility, the tableaux procession was well received.
The DRDO displayed its new underdevelopment Astra And Helina missiles, a mini UAV named Netra and the Nishant UAV. It also displayed a model of underwater autonomous vehicle, currently under development.
From the Army, the T-90 tanks, SMERCH multiple barrel rocket launchers, Brahmos missile system and cutting edge satellite terminals were on display. The aviation corps of the Army also put up a flight of its ALH choppers.
Among the marching contingents, the one that drew the maximum cheer was the Parachute regiment that marched in their trademark, jogging style. Besides, several other units, inducing the JAKLI regiment, 9 Gorkha Rifles, Mahar regiment and the Punjab regiment took part in the marching parade. Another display that drew great response from the crowd was the trademark performance of the BSF’s motorcycle stunt team, Janbaz.
The parade ended with an aerial display that could be conducted as the weather cleared up. The air force displayed its new C-17 transporter aircraft that was flown past accompanied by two Su-30 MKIs. Also on flight display were C-130J aircraft and the Mi-35 attack choppers. The fighter display consisted of five Jaguars, five MiG-29, and four Su-30 MKI fighters.
On Friday, the first question to the AAP was related to its “anti-national activities”.