Colourful floats, dog squad and daredevils: Here are key takeaways from the 67th Republic Day parade

India showcased its military prowess and achievements in different fields, state-of-the-art defence, diverse cultural and social traditions and the government's emphasis on self-reliance at Rajpath on the country's 67th Republic Day.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited French President Francois Hollande as the chief guest in a show of solidarity with France after Islamist attacks in Paris last November killed 130 — recalling a 2008 assault on Mumbai that killed 166. Hollande is the fifth French president to be the chief guest over the decades.

The two leaders agreed in talks on Monday to deepen cooperation on counter-terrorism in the wake of the Paris attacks and a deadly siege this month on an Indian air force base near the Pakistan border.

A colourful float marching down Rajpath. Screengrab.

A colourful float marching down Rajpath. Screengrab.

The mood on Tuesday was more celebratory, with Modi — sporting a gold turban that rivalled the spectacular military headgear on display — and Hollande chatting as they sat side by side in a bulletproof glass enclosure.

An estimated 10,000 spectators braved thick smog and air quality levels classified as hazardous on the US embassy website to watch the display.

Delhi is the world's most polluted capital and levels of PM2.5 — the tiny particles that can enter the bloodstream — frequently reach 10 times the World Health Organization's safe limit.

But the skies remained dry, unlike last year when chief guest US President Barack Obama was forced to shelter under an umbrella throughout.

The parade, which also features colourful floats showcasing the culture of the country's states, is the highlight of annual celebrations of the birth of modern India.

For the first time in the history of Republic Day parades, a 123-member French Army contingent marched on Rajpath and present a ceremonial salute to the President Pranab Mukherjee, as guest of honor Francois Hollande watched and clapped seated next to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Another first, after a gap of 26 years, was the march by an Army dog squad drawn from the Remount Veterinary Corps along with their handlers. The dogs, draped in scarves which reminded one of the Griffindor House of Hogwarts, stole the show as they walked in perfect sync. The colourful Border Security Force regiment followed its 66-year-old tradition and marched with 56 camels downn the Rajpath.

For the first time, the parade also witnessed an ex-servicemen tableau where army veterans showcased their role in nation building.Tableaux from 17 states and six Union Territories were also the part of the parade.

Among the weapons which were displayed were the army's missile firing capability T-90 Bhishma tank, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP II (Sarath), Mobile Autonomous Launcher of the BrahMos Missile System, Akash weapon system, Smerch Launcher Vehicles and Integrated Communication Electronic Warfare System.

An Indian Air Force tableau, themed 'Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations by IAF: In Service of the Nation and Beyond' showcased models of C-17 Globemaster, C-130 Hercules and MI-17V5 aircraft. These aircraft were used in the IAF's recent rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Yemen and Nepal.

Of the two-hour event at Rajpath, stunts by daredevils of the Army Signal Corps stole the show as they made various formations on motorbikes. The parade ended with flypasts and stunts over Rajpath by Jaguars and other aircraft. Visibility was an issue as fog made it difficult for thousands of cheering speactators below to enjoy the display.

Delhi was brought under an unprecedented ground-to-air security cover with thousands of armed personnel keeping a tight vigil on the celebrations. The area around Central Delhi was turned into virtual fortress in view of intelligence inputs that terror groups may target some important installations in the city. Ahead of the Republic Day celebrations, central security agencies and NIA busted a module by arresting 14 militants linked to terror group Islamic State.



The group had planned to carry out sensational strikes at important installations and its members had also visited the national capital, official sources said.

Commandos with light machine guns were deployed at 10 strategic locations and anti-aircraft guns remained positioned at two vantage points in the capital.

The enclosure of the VVIPs was put under a multi-layer security ring with Presidential Guards and officials of SPG and NSG guarding the two inner-most orbits and Delhi Police entrusted with guarding the outermost circle, said a senior official.

Special patrolling teams, comprising three officials including a commando, were deployed in New Delhi area within two-kilometer radius from India Gate. Snipers were put on 45 buildings overlooking Rajpath besides providing a similar cover along all the buildings along the parade route.

Gunners too, were given clear instructions to bring down any aerial object flying without permission. A 'NOTAM' (Notice to Airmen) was declared from 10.35 am to 12.15 pm during which no flights will land or take off at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

"Specially trained police personnel with light machine guns have been deployed at 10 strategic spots in New Delhi area," a senior police official said.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 26, 2016 15:55:11 IST

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