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Tri-services contingent which participated in Bastille Day Parade in France made India proud: Army chief

Chief of the Army Staff Gen Manoj Pande felicitates the Bastille Day Parade Tri-services contingent at Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantt, in New Delhi, Monday, Jul 17, 2023. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande felicitated members of the tri-services contingent which participated in the Bastille Day Parade in France last week, and said they have made the armed forces and India proud.

At an event held at the Manekshaw Centre here, the Army chief also said the Indian contingent who went to France has played a significant role in boosting the image of the country.

"You have not only made the three services -- army, air force and navy -- proud but also made the whole nation proud," he said in his address on Monday.

The sending of a tri-services contingent from the army, the air force and the navy, was in itself very significant, Gen Pande said.

He also mentioned that some members of the Punjab Regiment got to visit the war memorial at Neuve-Chapelle, a World War I memorial in France built in memory of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives, and pay their respects there.

The Indian tri-services contingent participated in the Bastille Day celebrations in France on July 14. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the guest of honour. Three Rafale fighter jets of the Indian Air Force joined the flypast along with French jets.

The Punjab Regiment Contingent, led by Capt Aman Jagtap, was the Indian Army contingent at that annual parade hosted on the magnificent Champs- lys es in the heart of Paris.

The Punjab Regiment Contingent was declared the best marching contingent in the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi this year. Capt Jagtap had led the contingent on that occasion too.

Gen Pande handed over the winning trophy after felicitating members of the contingent.

"Our (Punjab Regiment) ancestors had marched on this avenue of Paris 107 years ago. Punjab Regiment had participated in both World Wars and made the supreme sacrifice for our nation. It was a matter of immense pride that we marched in Paris in the Bastille Day in front of our prime minister," Capt Jagtap said.

Sqn Ldr Sindhu Reddy, the helicopter pilot of the Indian Air Force who led its marching contingent at the Bastille Day parade, said she has returned to India with a "great sense of pride" and "humility".

The total size of the Indian contingent was 242, which included a band contingent, a senior Army official said.

The Army contingent marched first in the sequence, followed by the band contingent, the Navy contingent and then the IAF contingent.

The Army chief later also interacted with some of the members of the Indian contingent as they returned to their homeland with great pride and admiration from fellow Indians.

Gen Pande asked them about their experiences in France, the places they visited, and their interaction with members of the French army.

When asked by him what was one of their memorable experience in France, some said the visit to the war memorial, while others noted it was meeting the Indian diaspora in that country.

The contingent leaders said marching in front of two top world leaders in a historic city like Paris was itself a humbling experience.

"This France visit was a memorable one. It was made even more special because I got the opportunity to take part in the Bastille Day celebrations. Seeing the Indian contingent get a pride of place in the parade was wonderful. I am grateful to President @EmmanuelMacron and the French people for the exceptional warmth and hospitality," Modi had tweeted on July 15.

"May the Indo-French friendship continue to soar," he added in his tweet.

The French National Day, or Bastille Day, occupies a special place in the French consciousness as it commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison during the French Revolution in 1789. The Bastille Day Parade is the highlight of the celebrations.

"A giant in world history, with a decisive role to play in the future, a strategic partner, a friend. We are proud to welcome India as our guest of honour at the 14 July parade," Macron had earlier tweeted.

"This 14 July, soldiers and Rafale aircraft from India are marching and flying alongside our troops," he wrote.

"We honour the memory of those who fought with the French in the First World War. We shall never forget," the French President said in another tweet.

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