India showcases its military might

The Capital turned a virtual fort, with anti-aircraft guns mounted on high-rise buildings, reports CR Jayachandran.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2006 19:04 IST

Amid an unprecedented multi-layered security blanket, India demonstrated its military might during the 57th traditional Republic Day parade in the national capital on Thursday.

The military prowess woven with technological advancements and diverse cultural richness unfolded on the majestic Rajpath.

The proceedings began with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and the three Service chiefs leading the nation in paying rich tributes to martyred soldiers by laying wreaths at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate.

Dr Singh then received President APJ Abdul Kalam and the chief guest Saudi monarch King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud at the saluting base on Rajpath.


 Celebrating the Republic Day

With unfurling of the Tricolour and singing of the National Anthem amid a 21-gun salute, the picture-perfect march-past unveiled virtually the entire armoury of the Army, Navy and Air Force to instil a sense of confidence and security among the countrymen.

President Kalam took the salute in the presence of the country's top brass and the chief guest as an advanced light helicopter and three Mi-17 helicopters showered rose petals on the large gathering.

The smartly-dressed marching contingents, led by Major General PC Bhardwaj, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area, stamped their feet to the drums of their accompanying bands, which belted out tunes that lifted the spirits of the spectators as well.

The marching contingents of para-military and other auxiliary civil forces included contingents from Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Railway Protection Force, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme. The Camel mounted Band and the BSF contingent also participated.

Tableaux from 24 states and Central Ministries and Departments presented the varied historical, architectural and cultural heritage of the country. They also showcased the country's progress in different fields.

Seventeen children, who have been selected for this year's National Bravery Awards, sitting atop caparisoned elephants, rode past the saluting dais amid all round cheers.

Earlier, the President also honoured 311 armed forces personnel with gallantry awards. The awards lists comprise 18 Param Vishist Seva medals, 47 AVSMs, 17 Shaurya Chakra, 119 Sena medals, 106 VSM,s and 25 Vayu sena medals.

In the children's pageant section, 1,500 boys and girls drawn from different school of the country presented dances and other programmes.

The motorcycle display by the Jaanbaz of the Border Security Force was a major attraction of the parade. 124 Riders and 24 silver Motor cycles performed breathtaking stunts in a synchronised and synergistic display of mind, body and machine coordination.

The grand and colourful parade also showcased the country's prized possessions in the field of defence.

The armed forces showcased the BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missiles, Agni-I, Agni-II and Prithvi II Surface-to-Surface Missiles, MBT Arjun, 155/45 mm E1 Soltam Artillery guns, Tunguska and Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launching System and AN/TPQ–37 Weapon Locating Radars amid other vignettes of country's military prowess.

Tableaux from 24 states and Central Ministries and Departments presented the varied historical, architectural and cultural heritage of the country. The Delhi Metro rail model received a huge round of applause from the crowd.

The grand finale of the parade was the spectacular flypast by the IL-78 Air-to-Air Refuellers and Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft in Tanker formation, followed by series of Jaguar and MiG-29 fighter aircraft in Arrowhead formation.

'High alert'

Meanwhile, the ceremonial heart turned into a virtual fort, with anti-aircraft guns mounted on high-rise buildings, hundreds of soldiers and police patrolling and stationed at vantage points.

Security was tightened in and around the city following certain intelligence inputs about threats to the security of the ceremony's chief guest, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah.

"The main threat is from a car bomb or a suicide attack," said senior police officer BK Gupta. "But we have made foolproof arrangements."

Armed commandos guarded the city's VIP areas through the night and special announcements were made in markets asking people not to touch unidentified objects.

"We have all our personnel mobilised to thwart an attack," Gupta said, adding helicopters would also be used.

First Published: Jan 26, 2006 10:01 IST