New Delhi: India on Tuesday celebrated its 67th Republic Day with French President Francois Hollande as the chief guest. The national capital was brought under an unprecedented ground-to-air security cover with thousands of armed personnel keeping a tight vigil.
The celebrations at the Rajpath that enthral the nation with majestic skills are a result of hardwork and determination of the participants, who rehearse for almost a year. Here are some interesting facts about preparations for Republic Day parade.
Under the aegis of the Ceremonial Division of the Ministry of Defence, the preparation for the event begins around March and culminates a year later in January.
The Republic Day parade begins with the arrival of the President of India at India's ceremonial boulevard and the horse-mounted cavalry President's Body Guard giving him a salute. The national anthem is played and a 21-gun salute begins, however, it is not the 21 guns, but seven artillery guns of the Indian Army that fire.
Heavy security is put in place across the country, especially in the national capital. Over 30,000 security officials guard the national capital. All the high-rises overlooking Rajpath are sanitised and snipers are deployed. A multi-layer security blanket was thrown around this year in Delhi after inputs were received about the presence of key members of several terror outfits in Delhi.
The participants taking part in the Republic Day parade are selected in July and rehears in their respective areas till December before marching to Delhi. On the D-day they arrive a the venue at 3 am.
Military equipments like tanks and armoured vehicles are kept at India Gate in a special camp. The weapon systems go through 10 levels of security screening.
The participants march for 12 hours during their practice session, though the final parade is only 9 km long. During practice session, judges are placed all along the path, who monitor the marching contingents.
The timing is of utmost importance and all those who are to perform at the Rajpath stick to their schedule.
The soldiers and guns go through four of security screening to ensure there is no live cartridge.
After a gap of 26 years, an Indian Army dog squad drawn from the Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) took part this year. Another major attraction was the a 76-member French Army contingent led by a French military band comprising 48 musicians presenting a ceremonial salute to the President of India.
The beautiful tableaus drive at the speed of 5km/hr.
The parade concludes with a grand flypast by fighters, heavy-lift transports and helicopters of the Indian Air Force.