Nation is celebrating its 69th Republic Day today. The main function was organized at Rajpath in the national capital where President Ram Nath Kovind took the salute of the parade.
Under the custom to host a leader of a foreign country as the chief guest at the parade, this year, in a first, leaders of 10 ASEAN countries were the Chief Guests.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the three service chiefs paid tributes to soldiers at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate by laying wreaths.
President Ram Nath Kovind before parade begins awarded India’s highest peacetime military decoration Ashok Chakra posthumously to Indian Air Force Garud commando Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala, who laid down his life after gunning down two terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.
The award was received by Corporal Nirala’s wife Sushmanand and his mother Malti Devi at the majestic Rajpath.
Corporal Nirala was attached to a Rashtriya Rifles battalion under the aegis of ‘Op Rakshak’ in Jammu and Kashmir. On November 18 last year, an offensive was launched in Chanderger village of Bandipora district based on specific intelligence. The Garud detachment covertly approached the target house where the terrorists were hiding and laid a close quarter ambush.
Nirala succumbed to fatal gunshot wounds.The gunfight resulted in the killing of six terrorists. Corporal Nirala exhibited most conspicuous gallantry in fighting with terrorists and made supreme sacrifice.Last year November, Nirala had single-handedly shot down two terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir during an anti-terror operation and made supreme sacrifice.
The parade started with flag bearer contingent bearing the ASEAN and 10 ASEAN countries’ flags. Marching contingents from Army, Navy, Air Force, Paramilitary Forces BSF, SSB, ITBP, Delhi Police, NCC and NSS participated in the parade.
India’s strategic defence weaponry was also displayed during the celebrations. Tableaux of fourteen States and nine Central Ministries participated in the parade presenting the varied historical, art and cultural heritage of India. For the first time, All India Radio was part of the parade, showcasing its journey of more than eight decades in the domain of public service, promotion and preservation of socio-cultural and linguistic heritage. Punjab Tableaux depicted the grandeur of Sangat and Pangat in a creative and comprehensive manner and Maharashtra displayed the Coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Traditional masks of Assam featured in state’s tableau while Kettukazhcha of Kerala drew the attention. Buddhist heritage place Sanchi and Monastery Kye Gompa also featured in tableaux. Income Tax Department Tableaux showed the collective support of people to the clean money drive. Eighteen children awarded with National Bravery Award also participated in the parade. A newly-raised all-woman bikers contingent of the Border Security Force made its debut on Rajpath.
The 27-member BSF women daredevils received cheers as they showcase their stunts and acrobatics on their Bullet motorcycles. At the end, there was a spectacular flypast by the Indian Air Force. The flypast commenced with the ‘Rudra’ formation comprising three ALH, followed by the ‘Hercules’ formation comprising three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.
The flypast concluded with Sukhoi fighter jet carrying out a ‘Vertical Charlie’ manoeuvre over the saluting dais.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has thanked leaders of ASEAN nations for participating in the Republic Day celebrations. In a series of tweets after the annual event, Mr Modi said, their presence with people of India is an unprecedented gesture of goodwill from ASEAN nations.
The Prime Minister said, he had the privilege to host the ASEAN leaders yesterday for the Commemorative Summit to mark 25 years of ASEAN -India partnership. Mr Modi said, this is no ordinary event and it is a historic milestone in a remarkable journey that has brought India and ASEAN to a deepening partnership of great promise for their 1.9 billion people, about one-fourth of humankind. He said, India- ASEAN partnership may be just 25 years old, but India’s ties with South-east Asia stretch back more than two millennia.
The Prime Minister said, forged in peace and friendship, religion and culture, art and commerce, language and literature, these enduring links are now present in every facet of the magnificent diversity of India and South-east Asia, providing a unique envelope of comfort and familiarity between the people.
Saying that INDIA-ASEAN trade and investment flows have multiplied several times, Mr Modi reiterated that ASEAN and India have immense opportunities to chart a steady course through the uncertain and turbulence times to a stable and peaceful future for the region and the world. He said, India and ASEAN have advanced the broad-based partnership through 30 mechanisms and with each ASEAN member, India have growing diplomatic, economic and security partnership. He said, ASEAN and India will work together to keep their seas safe and secure.