Somewhere among the 5000-odd participants marching down Rajpath this Republic Day will be two soldiers tied by their patriotic threads.
While Lieutenant Colonel Jasram Singh, the oldest surviving Ashok Chakra awardee, is a veteran who hasn’t missed a parade since 1968, Major General KJS Oberoi will command the marchpast, something he dreamt of as an NCC cadet in the 1968 R-day carnival.
Singh was awarded the Ashok Chakra for his daring exploits against Mizo insurgents. “The parade means a lot to me. It’s about honour and pride. My enthusiasm has only grown with time,” he said.
Singh, now settled in Meerut, was the first soldier to be awarded the Ashok Chakra in his lifetime. Joining him at the parade will be three Param Vir Chakra and six Ashok Chakra awardees.
Oberoi, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area, will lead the parade in front of a crowd of around three lakh. As a 15-year-old from Sainik School, Kunjpura, he was part of the NCC marching contingent in 1968. He said, “When I command the parade, my thoughts will go back to that day. I never imagined I would be commanding the parade one day.”
A mounted column of 61 cavalry, seven mechanised columns and eight marching contingents will represent the Indian Army.