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India showcases military might on 63rd Republic Day


Indian Army tanks and other mechanised columns on display during 63rd Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi on Thursday. A PTI photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): An impressive display of armour and unmanned aerial vehicles recently added to India's military prowess was on full display at the 63rd Republic Day parade on Thursday that also showcased the country's rich heritage.

The early morning chill did not deter people along the 8-km-parade route as they gathered on both sides of the majestic Rajpath, the country's ceremonial boulevard facing the Raisina Hills, and cheered the contingents as they went past portraying the diverse culture of the country.

The well-turned out and synchronised military and police formations led by General Officer Commanding (Delhi) Lt Gen V K Pillai marched proudly to the lilting tunes of bands through the Rajpath where President Pratibha Patil, who is the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces, took salute.

The impressive march-past was watched by Chief Guest Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh and top political and military brass.

Police and other para-military forces turned Delhi into a virtual fortress for the Republic Day celebrations as helicopters scanned from air, snipers kept a hawk-eye vigil from rooftops and armed personnel at every nook and corner provided a ground-to-air security apparatus.

Minutes before the parade began, Singh, Antony and chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force laid wreaths at 'Amar Jawan Jyoti', an eternal flame in the memory of those who laid down their lives while defending the nation.

After the customary 21-gun salute and unfurling of the national tricolour, President Patil presented Ashok Chakra -- the highest peacetime gallantry award -- posthumously to Lieutenant Navdeep Singh who died foiling an infiltration attempt by Pakistan-based terrorists along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

While the Indian Army rolled out its tanks and other weapons, including the Agni-IV missile and Advance Light Helicopter (ALH), the Navy showcased a Delhi-class destroyer.

The Indian Air Force also had a special tableau with the theme 'People first mission always'.

The IAF tableau showcased the C-130J Super Hercules, the World's most advanced and tactical aircraft and the forces' latest acquisition in the IAF-Mi-17 V5 Helicopter.

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