Every year since 2001, Rajendra Kumar has woken up early in the morning on Republic Day to head to India Gate and Rajpath. He has, however, not seen the full parade even once. A traffic policeman, the 40 year-old has only ever seen the parade from the sidelines. “I have been on Republic Day duty since I joined the force 17 years ago. Today, I came here at 3.30 am,” Kumar said.
“The one thing I get to see every year is the air show at the end. I really enjoy it. I have seen a few glimpses of the parade as well — a contingent of soldiers marching or school children dancing. Kya karein, naukri aisi hi hai (what can we do, the job is such),” he said as he directed a group of youngsters to their entry point at India Gate.
On Friday morning, personnel from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Delhi Police and Delhi Traffic Police stood guard and redirected people who came to watch the parade to the correct gates. Close to 60,000 security personnel from the Delhi Police and central security forces were deployed in central Delhi to make sure there was no chaos.
At Dr Zakir Hussain Marg, Manoj Shukla spoke about the time he saw the parade, albeit as a participant. “Five years ago, I was part of the ITBP contingent in the march past. It was a thrilling experience. Being part of the celebrations is a matter of pride. My family also saw me on television. Since then, every year I have been posted here for security,” he said.
Ashok Kumar, an assistant sub-inspector with the Delhi Police, has been on duty at India Gate for 30 years. “Mann toh karta hai par ye kaam bahut important hai. (I feel like watching the parade but this work is very important). There have been several times that I got passes arranged for family members or bought them tickets. They all enjoy the parade. My favourite part is the air show, which we all get to see, and the march past. We try and steal glances when we can,” he said.