Republic Day 2022: Virat retires after years of service; a look back at elite horse of President's Bodyguard

Virat was awarded the Chief of the Army Staff Commendation on the eve of Army Day on 15 January. He is the first horse to receive the commendation for exceptional service and abilities

FP Staff January 26, 2022 15:19:00 IST
Republic Day 2022: Virat retires after years of service; a look back at elite horse of President's Bodyguard

President Ram Nath Kovind bids farewell to Virat, a horse from the President's bodyguard that has participated on many Republic Day parades, at the Rajpath. AFP

The 73rd Republic Day Parade was a bittersweet moment for the president as it was the day that Virat retired after years of service.

No, we are not talking about the cricketer but the President's Bodyguard Commandant's black horse.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Rajnath Singh patted and bid farewell to the magnificent horse after the parade.

Here’s all you should know about this magnificent animal and the service he has provided to the nation:

Virat, the horse

Virat, a Hanoverian breed, was issued to the President's Bodyguard on 12 September, 2000 and performed his duties as the Commandant’s Charger for over a decade.

He has awed spectators, including foreign dignitaries, with his trademark poise and confidence.

Virat was the mount of President's Bodyguard Commandant Colonel Anup Tiwary and took part 13 times in Republic Day parades.

According to a report in News9Live, Virat is known for his ability to listen to whispers of his rider amid the din at Rajpath, making him one of the most trusted horses. Despite the guns booming, the bands playing and tanks and other weaponry rolling down Rajpath, Virat has stood tall and exuded calm and poise.

Virat was awarded the Chief of the Army Staff Commendation on the eve of Army Day on 15 January. Virat is the first horse to receive the commendation for exceptional service and abilities.

Livehindustan quoted an officer as saying that that Virat performed exceptionally well despite his old age during the Republic Day parade and Beating the Retreat ceremony in 2021.

The President’s Bodyguard

The President's Bodyguard is the most elite regiment in the Indian Army, handpicked by height and heritage from a pool of thousands and bedecked in the finest regalia befitting their status.

Raised in 1773, it is the senior-most regiment of the Indian Army.

The 200-strong cavalry unit, have for centuries been assigned to India’s uppermost VIPs, from British viceroys to modern-day heads of state.

Formed as an elite cavalry unit, the role of the regiment, as per the raising charter is "to act as bodyguard to the governor in peace and to accompany him as commander-in-chief in battle".

Though, their primarily function is to provide security to the state head, they also boast a combat experience in numerous battlefields starting from 19th Century Egypt to Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the planet. They also distinguished themselves as an elite unit as part of Indian United Nations contingents in Somalia, Angola and Sierra Leone.

With inputs from agencies

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