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Women power to the fore as Republic Day 2022 parade witnesses many firsts from Indian defence forces

Three marching contingents of the Indian Army wore uniforms and carried rifles from previous decades, while one contingent wore the new combat uniform and carried the latest Tavor rifles.

Published: 26th January 2022 11:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th January 2022 03:38 PM   |  A+A-

Border Security Forces all-women motorcycle team Seema Bhawani during the Republic Day Parade 2022, at Rajpath in New Delhi. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

Border Security Forces all-women motorcycle team Seema Bhawani during the Republic Day Parade 2022, at Rajpath in New Delhi. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: How Indian Army uniforms and rifles have evolved over the decades since the Indian independence was on display at this year's Republic Day parade.

Three marching contingents of the Indian Army wore uniforms and carried rifles from previous decades, while one contingent wore the new combat uniform and carried the latest Tavor rifles at Republic Day Parade-2022 (RDP-2022) as a part of 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrating the 75th year of India's independence.

There were a total of six marching contingents of the Army at the parade this year.

Each marching contingent this year comprised 96 soldiers instead of the usual 144 so that proper attention can be given to COVID-19 protocol.

The Indian Army's first marching contingent, of Rajput regiment soldiers, wore the 1950s uniform and carry .303 rifles.

The second marching contingent, of Assam regiment soldiers, wore the 1960s uniform of the Indian Army and carry .303 rifles.

The 1970s uniform of the Army was worn by soldiers of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry regiment, who formed the third marching contingent, and they carried 7.62 mm self-loading rifles.

The fourth and fifth marching contingents were of Sikh Light Infantry and Army Ordnance Corps Regiment, respectively, and these soldiers wore the current uniform of the Army and carry 5.56 mm Insas rifles.

The sixth contingent was of Parachute regiment soldiers who wore the new combat uniform, which was unveiled earlier this month, and carried Tavor rifles.

Overall, there were a total of 14 marching contingents -- six of Army, one of Navy, one of Air Force, four of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), two of National Cadet Corps (NCC), one of Delhi police and one of National Service Scheme (NSS).

Heralding this year's Republic Day parade is Parade Commander, Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra while the second in-command is of Major General Alok Kacker.

Vijay Kumar Mishra, an Ati Vishisth Seva Medal awardee and a second- generation Army officer, is an alumnus of the Indian Military Academy and was commissioned into the 17th Battalion the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in December 1985.

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He is a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, and has attended the Higher Command Course at the Army War College, Mhow as well as the prestigious National Defence College at New Delhi.

The General Officer has a very rich and varied operational experience spanning over more than three decades, be it serving on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, where he was also wounded in operations, or the challenging, counter insurgency operations at various levels, including tenures with Rashtriya Rifles in South Kashmir or in Tripura with Assam Rifles.

Major General Alok Kacker is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, He was commissioned in the 2nd Battalion of the 9th Gorkha Rifles in December 1985.

A second generation Officer, he commanded the Battalion in Counter Insurgency area in North East.

The officer commanded the brigade in the Western Theatre and has rich experience of serving in Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast.

For his distinguished service, the officer has been awarded the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff and General Officer Commanding -in-Chief Army Training Command.

The Indian Army on Wednesday showcased at the Republic Day parade the Centurion tank, PT-76 tank, 75/24 Pack howitzer and OT-62 TOPAZ armoured personnel carrier that played a major role in defeating Pakistan in the 1971 war.

India in 2021 celebrated the Swarnim Vijay Varsh (Golden victory year) to commemorate India's win over Pakistan in the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

On Wednesday, the mechanised columns of the Army showed one PT-76 tank, one Centurion tank, two MBT Arjun MK-I tanks, one OT-62 TOPAZ armoured personnel carrier, one BMP-I infantry fighting vehicle and two BMP-II infantry fighting vehicles.

One 75/24 Pack howitzer, two Dhanush howitzers, one PMS bridge-laying system, two Sarvatra bridge-laying systems, one HT-16 electronic warfare system, two Taran Shakti electronic warfare systems, one Tiger Cat missile system and two Akash missile systems were also part of the mechanised columns at the Republic Day parade.

At the parade, the detachment of Centurion tank of "The Poona Horse' regiment was led by Captain Rahul Sharma.

Centurion was the main stay of the Indian Army in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

At the Battle of Basantar during the war, an armoured division and a brigade of the Pakistan 1 Corps confronted two brigades of the Indian 1 Corps equipped with Centurion tanks.

Casualties were heavy on the Pakistan side with 46 tanks destroyed.

The PT-76 tank at the parade was led by Captain Anshuman Tiwari of 69 Armoured Regiment.

The PT-76 saw action in the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971.

The Battle of Bogra in the 1971 war was fought by the 69 Armour Regiment with the help of PT-76 tanks.

The Battle of Garibpur of the 1971 war is another example where the Indian Army's infantry battalion with only 14 PT-76 tanks was able to maul a much larger brigade of Pakistani armour and inflict heavy casualties.

During the Battle of Garibpur, many Pakistani M24 Chaffee tanks were destroyed.

OT-62 Topaz armoured personnel carrier, which also played a pivotal role during the 1971 war, was led by Major Ravi Kumar of the Mechanised Infantry Regiment during Wednesday's parade.

The 75/24 Pack howitzer was the first indigenously developed mountain gun.

It actively participated in the 1965 Indo-Pak war and 1971 Indo-Pak war.

The gun, which weighs 983 kgs and could fire up to a maximum range of 11,104 metres, was phased out in 1980s.

The march past on Republic Day on Wednesday began with Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra gallantry award winners following the parade commander in their jeeps.

Retired Subedar Major Yogender Singh Yadav, who won India's highest wartime gallantry award Param Vir Chakra for showing exemplary bravery during the 1999 Kargil war, was in the first of the three jeeps.

Yadav was conferred the rank of Honorary Captain on Independence Day last year.

Subedar Sanjay Kumar, who also won the Param Vir Chakra for showing exceptional bravery during the 1999 Kargil war, was in the second jeep.

Colonel D Sreeram Kumar -- who won India's highest peacetime gallantry award Ashok Chakra for showing exceptional bravery during an anti-terrorist operation in Imphal on October 23, 2008 -- was in the third jeep.

All three jeeps -- each with an award winner -- drove parallel during the parade.

The Indian Navy's tableau at the Republic Day parade on Wednesday depicted the 1946 naval uprising, which contributed to the country's Independence movement, and its marching contingent was led by a woman officer.

The uprising was started by the Royal Indian Navy's sailors of 'Talwar' ship on February 18, 1946, and it then spread to 78 ships.

The tableau on Tuesday showed the navy's theme of 'Combat Ready, Credible and Cohesive'.

The naval contingent comprised 96 men, three platoon commanders and one contingent commander.

It was led by Lieutenant Commander Aanchal Sharma, who is an observer officer posted at the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 314.

Sharma, who was commissioned in June 2016, had on January 22 said that the enthusiasm and energy of the contingent is unparalleled and it is indeed an honour to be leading it at Republic Day parade.

As the nation is celebrating 75 years of Independence as 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav', the navy's contribution to the Indian freedom struggle had a special mention in the tableau.

The forward part of the tableau depicted the naval uprising while the rear section of the tableau illustrated the 'Make in India' initiatives of the Indian Navy, particularly for the period 1983 to 2021.

The model of indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant with Light Combat Aircraft in air took the centre stage.

This model was flanked by models of the indigenous missile corvette Kora, destroyer Visakhapatnam, frigate Shivalik on left and P-75 submarine Kalvari, frigate Godavari and destroyer Delhi on the right.

Frames on the lower section of the trailer depicted indigenous construction of naval platforms.

At the parade, the 72-men band of the Indian Navy was led by Vincent Johnson, Master Chief Petty Officer Musician and Hon Sub Lieutenant.

The naval brass band played the Indian Navy's song 'Jai Bharati'.

Johnson led the naval band as a drum major.

This was the 18th time that he was participating in the Republic Day parade.

The country's first woman Rafale fighter jet pilot Shivangi Singh was part of the Indian Air Force tableau at the Republic Day parade on Wednesday.

She is only the second woman fighter jet pilot to be part of the IAF tableau.

Last year, Flight Lieutenant Bhawna Kanth became the first female fighter jet pilot to be part of the IAF tableau.

Singh, who is from Varanasi, joined the IAF in 2017 and was commissioned in the IAF's second batch of women fighter pilots.

She had been flying MiG-21 Bison aircraft before flying the Rafale.

She is part of the IAF's Golden Arrows squadron based out of Ambala in Punjab.

The IAF tableau was based on the theme -- 'Indian Air Force transforming for the future'.

Scaled down models of Rafale fighter jet, indigenously developed light combat helicopter (LCH) and 3D surveillance radar Aslesha MK-1 were part of the float.

It also featured a scaled down model of MiG-21 aircraft that played a major role in the 1971 war in which India defeated Pakistan, leading to the creation of Bangladesh, as well as a model of India's first indigenously developed aircraft Gnat.

The first batch of Rafale fighter jets arrived on July 29, 2020, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.

So far, 32 Rafale jets have been delivered to the IAF and four are expected by April this year.

Ten huge scrolls depicting the valour and bravery of unsung heroes of freedom struggle were displayed along the Rajpath during the 73rd Republic Day parade.

The scrolls, each of 75 metres in length and 15 ft in height, were prepared during the 'Kala Kumbh' event jointly organised by ministries of defence and culture.

The scrolls were painted in two phases - at Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh - by over 600 renowned artists and young aspirants from across the country.

Inspiration for the scrolls was drawn from the unsung heroes of the freedom struggle, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of indigenous and contemporary visual art practices.

The national flag was unfurled on 73rd Republic Day at Rajpath followed by the National Anthem with a booming 21-gun salute on Wednesday.

According to the tradition, the 21-gun salute was presented by the ceremonial battery of 871 field regiment.

The ceremonial battery was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Jitender Singh Mehta.

President Ram Nath Kovind honoured the proud winners of the highest gallantry, including the winners of Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra.

Flower petals were showered by four Mi-17 V5 helicopters flying in the wineglass formation.

Horse-mounted soldiers of the Indian Army's 61 Cavalry Regiment, the only active horsed cavalry unit in the world currently, was the first marching contingent at the Republic Day parade on Wednesday.

This regiment's contingent was led by Major Mrityunjay Singh Chouhan.

The 61 Cavalry Regiment was formed in 1953 by amalgamation of all the states' horse units.

The regiment has the unique distinction of leading the last recorded cavalry charge in history when it took on the Turks at the battle of Haifa in 1918 during World War 1.

The regiment has won a total of 39 battle honours till date.

Its motto is "Ashva Shaki Yashobal", which means "Horse Power is Forever Supreme".

The Republic Day parade at the Rajpath this year saw the "grandest and largest" flypast ever with the participation of 75 aircraft to mark the 'Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav' celebrations.

The flypast concluded with 17 Jaguar fighter aircraft flying in the 'Amrit' formation to commemorate the 75 years of Independence.

This year the viewers could also see the cockpit of the aircraft on the screens at the parade venue as well as during the broadcast.

The flypast included Tangail formation which saw one Dakota and two Dornier flying in Vic formation.

This was a tribute to the Tangail airdrop operations of the 1971 War.

There was also a Meghna formation of 1 Chinook and four Mi-17s.

The flypast began with the 'Dhwaj' formation with four Mi-17 aircraft, followed by 'Rudra' and 'Rahat' formations with four and five Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), respectively.

Among the other aircraft that displayed their might at the parade are Rafale, Indian Navy's MiG29K, P-8I surveillance aircraft and Jaguar fighter jets.



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