Patriotic fervour gripped the nation on Thursday as the 68th Republic Day was celebrated across the country with India’s military might and rich diversity on display at the grand parade here in the national capital. The celebrations were peaceful in cities and towns, barring Manipur and Assam where two and seven bomb blasts were triggered by militants respectively. However, no casualties were reported.
In New Delhi, the chief guest at the parade was Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who keenly watched the 90-minute event on Rajpath boulevard especially when the 149-member United Arab Emirates (UAE) military contingent made history by joining the impressive parade.
India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) developed indigenously made their maiden appearance at the Republic Day parade along with the Dhanush artillery gun.
Despite overcast weather conditions, three fighter jets flew at a height of 300 metres from ground at a speed of 780 km per hour in ‘VIC' formation, leaving the spectators at Rajpath boulevard in awe.
Also making their debut at the parade was India's elite counter-terrorism force, the National Security Guard (NSG).
A contingent of some 60 commandos in their black overalls and full armed gear marched on the Rajpath, giving ceremonial salute to President Pranab Mukherjee. The other commandos were on seven vehicles with hydraulic ladders mounted on them.
Furthermore, the Indian Navy displayed the stealth guided missile destroyer INS Chennai and the indigenously-made Kalvari class Scorpene submarines. This year, the submarine arm of the Indian Navy marks its golden jubilee.
Another highlight of the parade were the children who won the National Bravery Awards who were greeted to loud cheers from the spectators.
Also on display was the country’s diverse culture, technological achievements and the colourful tableaux.
While, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) tableau showcased the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Assam tableau showed the famous Kamakhya temple — dedicated to the Hindu diety Kamakhya.
The day was celebrated across the country with flag hoisting ceremonies, military parades and cultural programmes.
In Punjab, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal unfurled the national flag in Mohali, adjoining Chandigarh, in rain while deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal hoisted the flag in Jalandhar city.
Border Security Force (BSF) troopers celebrated the Republic Day by hoisting the national flag at various locations along the India-Pakistan international border.
In Bihar, Governor Ram Nath Kovind hoisted the tricolour and took salute at an impressive parade by security forces while, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hoisted the tricolour at his official residence here.
In Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam hoisted the tricolour at the Marina beach which was the venue of massive pro-Jallikattu protests till a few days ago.
Before the parade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to the martyrs by laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate.
Modi was accompanied by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba.
After laying the wreath, Modi observed a two-minute silence to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers.
Despite the drizzle and winter chill, scores of Delhiites thronged the Rajpath to see the parade.