The Capital that hates to wake up early on holidays were out of beds early on Thursday morning to be part of the 63rd Republic Day celebrations. Delhiites, who prefer watching a movie on a polling day or going for an outing on Independence Day, woke up to the national tune.
For some, the Jaguars and Sukhois fighter planes were the main attraction while others had just come to see Dhruv, the lightest helicopter in defence forces.
For Mehul, 12, who had come from Greater Kailash with his father, was at the India Gate to see the fighter planes and tanks. His father, Vishal Narang, says that this is the first time that he had brought his son to the parade. “He finds planes and tanks really cool. He’s too excited to be here,” said Narang.
What enthralled the viewers most was the cultural splendour, the vertical charlie by fighter planes and the motorbike display.
It wasn’t only the Delhiites who flocked to the Rajpath, people from as far as Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh had come especially to see the parade. Mrinal Yadav, 22, was one such visitor who had come to Delhi just to see the parade. “There was a time when January 26 had its own charm across the nation. People would switch on their TV sets early in the morning to see run-up to the Republic Day parade on Doordarshan. And those who didn’t have TVs used to listen to the live commentary on their radio sets,” reminisces AK Chawla, 82, who had come to see the parade.
“For the new India, there is a website which webcasts the entire parade. The motive is to reach to the huge Indian diaspora in countries such as the UK, the US and Canada,” added Chawla.
The power of the military of the nation was showcased on Thursday with the first woman Thailand Prime Minister as the chief guest. And another woman who created history this republic day was flight lieutenant Sneha Shekhawat from Sikar in Rajasthan who led the Air Force contingent at the parade, becoming the first woman pilot to do so. The grand show which began at 10 am came to an end at noon with the Grand National salute.
Chaos at India Gate, public disappointed
All didn’t go well at the Republic Day parade despite heavy arrangements by the Delhi Police.
The chaos outside the entry gates made it difficult for the visitors to get inside the enclosures. The gates had to be closed at 8:30 am by the police as crowd swelled outside the venue. and crowd jostling became difficult for the police to handle.
People with valid passes also had to return. According to the sources, the excess passes issue by the Ministry of Defence led to chaos. However, the ministry refused to comment on it.
“I don’t know why they have closed entry for people with valid passes. We woke up at 6 am to see the Republic Day parade and now we have to return without watching it,” said SK Singh.