India celebrates its 60th Republic Day with fervour

January 26th, 2009 - 4:58 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, January 26 (ANI): Citizens across India celebrated the countrys 60th Republic Day on Monday, even as the nations military might was on full display at a magnificent annual parade along New Delhis majestic Raj Path.

The event, showcasing gallantry, tradition and the joy that every Indian citizen, was performed before President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Chief Guest and President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and a host of other dignitaries from all walks of life. With Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh recuperating at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences after undergoing a major by-pass heart surgery on Saturday, Union Defense Minister A.K. Antony was accorded the privilege of performing the customary duties on the PM’’s behalf during the Republic Day ceremony.

In the morning, Antony and the three service chiefs Admiral Sureesh Mehta, General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major — of the Indian Navy, Army and Air Force respectively — laid wreaths at the ”Amar Jawan Jyoti”, the British-era World War-I memorial at India Gate, where an eternal flame burns in memory of those martyrs who laid down their lives for the glory of the nation.

Minutes before the parade began, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and chief guest Kazakhastan President Nursultan Nazarbayev were escorted up to podium by the President’’s Body Guards (PBG), the oldest army unit, riding on bedecked horses. Antony received Patil and President Nazarbayev at the saluting dais in the absence of the Prime Minister.

President Patil and guests witnessed the unfurling of the tricolour, which was followed by the national anthemJan Gana Mana..—by military bands and the traditional 21-gun salute by 299 Field Regiment. Following this, the parade began, as four Mi-17 helicopters of the Indian Air Force flew past with the national flag as well as those of the three defence services slinging below.

The first to appear in the parade were winners of the Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra followed by mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry by Lieutenant Colonel Navjit Singh Sandhu. President Patil took the salute of marching contingents during the parade. Major General K.J.S Oberoi, General Officer Commanding of Delhi Area of the Army, led the parade.

The Army then showcased its impressive armoury before the nation, including frontline T-90S battle tanks, indigenous Brahmos missile, OSA-AK system, the most modern and versatile air defence weapon. The parade won everyone’’s applaud as the armed forces in battle regalia proudly marched before their supreme commander.

A scintillating show of air-power, fascinating tableaux depicting the diverse culture of India and hundreds of colourfully-dressed dancing school children were part of the parade. Earlier, a massive ground-to-air security apparatus was put in place in the national capital to prevent any untoward terror incident. Intelligence agencies had warned of a possible terrorist strike.

Snipers of the National Security Guards (NSG) were deployed at all high-rises all along the parade route. Maharashtra Police ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte and four others killed fighting Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai were among nine security personnel who received the Ashok Chakra, the country’’s highest peace-time gallantry medal.

The list of distinguished guests in VVIP gallery watching the parade included Vice President Hamid Ansari, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and members of her family, Cabinet Ministers and others.

A large enthusiastic crowd lined both sides of the parade route and cheered lustily throughout the event. (ANI)

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