Republic Day parade: In a first, BSF puts women on 2 wheelshttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/republic-day-parade-bsf-women-bikers-rajpath-5040720/

Republic Day parade: In a first, BSF puts women on 2 wheels

Contingent of over 100 women riders who make history receive applause from PM, President, ASEAN dignitaries.

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The contingent of over 100 women riders, called Seema Bhawani, displayed 16 gravity-defying acrobatic formations and had key ministers of the Modi government on their feet. (Express Photo/Amit Mehra)

On January 26, 2015, when 67 men from BSF’s Janbaaz bikers’ team put their acrobatic skills on display at Rajpath, they got a thumbs up from none other than the chief guest — the then US President Barack Obama. Obama was so impressed with the acrobatic skills of the BSF’s motorcycle contingent that while addressing the Indo-US business meet in the evening, he said, “I will not ride another bike again after watching those incredible acrobats.”

Three years later, BSF has once again managed to wow dignitaries from 10 ASEAN countries by putting women combatants on thudding two-wheelers for the first time. The display also won the loudest applause from the large crowd. The over 100 women riders’ contingent, called Seema Bhawani, displayed 16 different gravity-defying acrobatic formations and had key ministers of the Modi government on their feet. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauded the spectacular show throughout.

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The display also won the loudest applause from the large crowd. (Express Photo/Amit Mehra)

The awe-inspiring performance would look even more praiseworthy when one takes note of the fact that the Seema Bhawani team was constituted only in 2016. According to chief coach and commander of the team, Ramesh Chandra, the initial contingent comprised only 45 women. And Chandra had to begin from scratch — not just in acrobatics but teaching the women how to ride a bike in the first place.

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The over 100 women riders’ contingent, called Seema Bhawani, displayed 16 different gravity-defying acrobatic formations (Express Photo/Amit Mehra)

“Almost 70% of the women in the contingent did not even know how to ride a cycle. Only three had ridden a scooty and two knew how to ride a motorbike. So I had to begin with teaching them the basics of riding. Acrobatics came much later,” said Chandra.

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The team comprised 106 women, formed under captain, sub-inspector Stanzing Noryang (Express Photo/Amit Mehra)

The team was a quick learner, though. Within three months of being commissioned on October 20, 2016, the team displayed its first show in front of BSF chief K K Sharma at BSF Tekanpur. It subsequently held three more shows, including one in front of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, on December 1, 2017, on the BSF’s Raising Day.

When the BSF DG asked the contingent to prepare for a Republic Day show post the Raising Day, it had just over a month to prepare. “Our women were confident, though. And so a team of 106 was formed under team captain, sub-inspector Stanzing Noryang. They trained hard, even suffering some injuries over the past month. In the end, they put up a great show,” Chandra said.

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Seema Bhawani had key ministers of the Modi government on their feet (Express Photo/Amit Mehra)