Marching down from the Raisina Hills, the Republic Day parade showcased the country’s ‘unity in diversity’ as well as the armed forces in full battle regalia.
Despite the heavy fog, well turned out and synchronised military contingents marched proudly through the Rajpath where President and Supreme Commander of armed forces Pratibha Patil took the salute.
The march-past was watched by the Republic Day chief guest South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony and the country’s top political and military brass, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Patil and her South Korean counterpart arrived at the Rajpath escorted by the President’s 46 bodyguards riding well-trained, impeccably-bedecked horses.
Minutes before the parade began, Dr Singh, Antony and chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force laid wreaths at ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’, the British-era World War-I memorial at India Gate, where an eternal flame burns in memory of those who laid down their lives while defending the nation’s frontiers.
A heavy security blanket was thrown around the capital for the Republic Day celebrations in the backdrop of intelligence inputs about militant outfit LeT acquiring over 50 para-gliding equipment which could be used to launch an air-borne suicide attack.
After the President unfurled the tricolour and a customary 21-gun salute, the parade led by Major General KJS Oberoi, General Officer Commanding of Delhi Area of the Army, started.
The fog played spoilsport as four Mi-17 helicopters, which were scheduled to shower flower petals on the spectators, failed to do so due to the weather conditions.
The first to walk were the winners of the Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra followed by mounted columns of 61 Cavalry.
The Army then showcased its impressive armoury before the nation which included the indigenous MBT Arjun, SMERCH Multiple Launch Rocket System and Armoured Engineer Recce Vehicle and Sarvatra Bridge.
The army also brought its state-of-the-art ICV Communication Vehicle besides Samyukta Electronic Warfare System, Infantry Fighting Vehicle ‘Sarath’ and Ambulance Tracked to the parade.
The army contingent included personnel from Madras Regiment, Jat Regimentry, Sikh Regiment, Dogra Regiment, Garhwal Regiment, Bihar Regiment, Gorkha Regiment and Territorial Army.
They marched to the tunes ‘Pragati’, ‘Sam Bahadur’, Hanste Lushai and General Tappy played by several bands drawn from various regiments of the Army.
Smartly-dressed 148 Navy personnel then marched to the tunes of ‘Jai Bharati’ along with a tableau of INS Shivalik, which will be inducted shortly into the Indian Navy.
The Air Force contingent followed the Navy men marching to the tunes of ‘Space Flight’ played by its band. A tableau of ‘The Air Warrior’ was also displayed.
DRDO’s Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Agni-III missile, surface-to-surface Shourya missile and Rohini Radar were also displayed.
Other marching contingents included camel-mounted BSF, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, SSB, RPF, Delhi Police, NCC and NSS.