India's military might and cultural heritage finds voice at 61st Republic Day

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New Delhi, Jan.26 (ANI): Though a blinding mist sought to be a dampner and an obstacle to India celebrating its 61st Republic Day on Tuesday, the nation and its citizens observed the event with patriotic fervor, gaiety and enthusiasm.

The ceremony commenced with the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, leading the nation in paying homage to martyrs by laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate at 9.25 a.m. on Tuesday morning.A tri-service contingent sounded the Last Post on the occasion.

An eternal flame burns at the Amar Jawan Jyoti to commemorate the indomitable courage of our Armed Forces personnel who have made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the motherland. The Amar Jawan, the immortal soldier, is symbolised by a reversed rifle topped by a helmet.

As per tradition, the tricolour was unfurled and the national anthem was played soon after the arrival of the dignitaries.

Thereafter, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil conferred the Ashok Chakra on Major D. Sreeram Kumar of 39 Assam Rifles, Major Mohit Sharma (posthumous) of 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (Special Forces) and Havildar Rajesh Kumar (posthumous) of 11th Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles.

The parade commenced with the President taking the salute. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was the chief guest at this year's parade.

Lt. General Kanwaljeet Singh Oberoi, the General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area, commanded the parade. Brigadier Kuldip Singh was the parade's second-in-command.

Param Vir Chakra winners Subedar Major (Honorary captain) Bana Singh (retired), Havildar Sanjay Kumar, 13 JAK RIF and Havildar Yogendra Singh Yadav, 18 Grenadiers and Ashok Chakra Winners Lt Col Jas Ram Singh (retired), Brigadier CA Pithawalla, Cdr, HQ 3 Sect Rashtriya Rifles and Hony Naib subedar Chhering Mutup (retired) followed in jeeps.

The marching contingents of Army included the horse-mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry, the Brigade of the Guards, Madras Regiment, Jat Regiment, Sikh Regiment, Dogra Regiment, Bihar Regiment, Gorkha Regiment and the Territorial Army. The naval contingents, comprising 144 men,m was led by Lt. Commander Ajay Verma, while the Air Force contingent, comprising 148 men, was led by Squadron Leader. R. Katoch.

The marching contingents of paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces included contingents from the 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 of the Border Security Force was another attraction.

Tableaux from 21 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.

Nineteen of the 21 children selected for the National Bravery Award - 2009 participated in the parade. Two children have got the award posthumously.

In the children's pageant section, 750 boys and girls drawn from various schools presented dances and other programs.

Jaanbaz, the motorcycle display by the Border Security Force saw 178 riders on 34 motorcycles performing the Border Man Salute, Back Riding, Ladder Balancing, Guldasta, Operation Tawar, Seema Chowki Buland, Seema Prahari and Flag March under the leadership of Inspector Gurpreet Singh.

They performed breathtaking stunts in a synchronized and synergetic display of mind, body and machine coordination.

The grand finale was provided in the form of a spectacular fly-past by the IAF, with the AWACS participating in the Parade for the first time. One IL-78, flanked by two AN-32 and two Dornier, flying in Big Boy formation, will lead the fly-past.

Among the major attractions of today's parade was the Main Battle Tank Arjun, the Smerch Multiple Launch Rocket System, the Armoured Engineer Recce Vehicle, the Sarvatra Bridge, the Electronic Warfare System, Samyukta, ICV BMP-II Sarath, Ambulance Tracked and ALH Dhruv.

Also on view was the indigenous systems being developed by the DRDO, including the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Agni-III Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, Shourya Surface-to-Surface Strategic Missile and the Rohini Radar.

Since New Delhi is hosting the Commonwealth Games in October this year, the Games mascot "Shera" was the cynosure of all eyes along the eight-kilometer-long parade route.

A bevy of sportspersons, including boxer Vijender Singh, wrestler Sushil Kumar, weightlifter K Malleshwari, athlete P T Usha, former hockey players Ajitpal Singh and Zafar Iqbal, shooter Samresh Jung, badminton player Gopichand Pullela, swimmer Khajan Singh and veteran Olympian Milkha Singh were the star attractions of the parade.

One AWACS, flanked by two Su-30 MKI, flying in Sentry formation. Five Jaguars followed by five MiG-29 will fly in Arrowhead formation. The breathtaking Trishul formation comprising three Su-30 MKI would fly over the Rajpath and once in front of the saluting dais the Su-30MKI aircraft at the centre would carry out a Vertical Charlie manoeuvre.

The ceremony culminated with the National Anthem and release of orange, white and green balloons. (ANI)

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