It was tricolour balloons, 22 tableaux projecting India's rich diversity, the armed forces showcasing their might and 'garba' on Rajpath, as India celebrated 71 years as a republic on Sunday. Sixteen state tableaux and six from different ministries and departments were displayed on Rajpath. While, Jammu & Kashmir showcased its 'Back to Village' programme, the Odisha tableau showcased the Rukuna Ratha Yatra of Lord Lingaraja. Kullu's Dussehra festival was proudly projected by the Himachal Pradesh tableau. CPWD Horticulture tableau's theme was 'Kashmir se Kanyakumari'.
Birla Balika Vidyapeeth, a school which has been continuously participating in the Republic Day parade for 56 years now was also there on the Rajpath. When the girls crossed the Rajpath playing their instruments, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stood up to applaud them.
The event also witnessed India showcasing its military prowess. The Air Defence Tactical Control Radar was displayed at the parade as was Boeing P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft and the Kolkata Class Destroyer and the Kalvari Class submarine by the Indian Navy.
Advanced Light Helicopters were flown in 'Diamond' formation, over Rajpath as this year's Republic Day Chief guest Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro watched with awe. The T-90 Bhishma battle tanks of the Indian Army proudly rolled down the Rajpath, commanded by Captain Sunny Chahar of 86 Armoured Regiment.
One key takeaway of the parade was the 'garba' dance of Gujarat as about 150 girl students from schools in Gujarat showcased the folk dance.
After the parade was over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sporting a saffron turban, walked on the Rajpath waving at people who were there to witness the gala event.
Earlier, President Ram Nath Kovind received the national salute at Rajpath. Lieutenant General Asit Mistry, General Officer Commanding, Headquarters Delhi Area, led this year's parade.
Prime Minister Modi also paid rich tributes to the martyred soldiers by laying a wreath at the National War Memorial in New Delhi, before the parade began. He was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat along with the three service chiefs - Army Chief General M.M. Naravane, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria.
IAF pilots killed in friendly fire conferred gallantry award
The Indian Air Force pilots of the Mi17 helicopter that was shot down in friendly fire in Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir last year have been conferred gallantry awards posthumously. Squadron Leader Ninad Anil Mandavgane (Posthumous), Squadron Leader Siddharth Vashisht (Posthumous) were awarded the Vayu Sena medal (gallantry) on the eve of Republic Day.
On February 27, 2019, an Mi17 helicopter crashed in Budgam in which six personnel onboard were killed. This happened during heightened tension between India and Pakistan.
The incident took place in the fog of war or what is often called blue on blue in military parlance a day after the Indian Air Force hit terror camps in Pakistan. As the Pakistan Air Force retaliated, there was an aerial dogfight.
The other four personnel killed were accorded the status of 'Mention-In-Despatches' which is also a recognition for gallantry.
Sergeant Vikrant Sahrawat, Sergeant Vishal Kumar Pandey, Corporal Pankaj Kumar and Corporal Deepak Pandey have their names figured as Mention-in-Despatches, Posthumously.
The IAF in its court of inquiry had established lapses and mistakes by officials.
It established that the Mi17 helicopter was hit by IAF missile.
Those killed have been considered battle casualties.