Amid raging CAA protests, India celebrates 71st Republic Day

Amid raging CAA protests, India celebrates 71st Republic Day
Security personnel inspect various enclosures along the Rajpath, which is all-set for the Republic Day Parade, in New Delhi, Saturday. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The national capital has been brought under a multi-layered security cover with thousands of armed personnel keeping a hawk-eyed vigil for the 71st Republic Day celebrations where Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will be the chief guest.

Multi-layered security arrangements are in place. Sharpshooters and snipers will be deployed atop high-rise buildings to keep a watch on the 8km-long parade route from Rajpath to the Red Fort on Sunday, officials said.

In view of widespread protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens, the officials have imposed restrictions on wearing black caps or scarves during Republic Day celebrations. However, the officials said that this has been the practise every year.

Police personnel have been directed to stay utmost alert since Delhi polls are also around the corner. Anti-terror measures like tenant and servant verification, border checking, security of vital installations, malls and markets, patrolling in heavy footfall areas are being taken, they said.

"We have intensified patrolling in public places. Group patrolling, night patrolling and vehicle checking is being carried out with the help of Central Armed Police Forces. Frisking at metro stations, railway stations, airport and bus terminals have also been tightened," a senior police official said.

At least 150 CCTV cameras have been installed in areas covering Red Fort, Chandni Chowk and Yamuna Khadar, the officer added.

The police have also asked hotels, taxi and auto drivers to remain alert. Besides, security guards and members of Delhi Police's 'eyes and ear scheme' were also briefed.

The security personnel have identified vulnerable spots such as crowded markets, railway stations, bus stands and other high-value establishments and efforts are being made to secure them with deployment of extra police force.

A traffic advisory has also been issued about the police's elaborate arrangement for route diversions for the Republic Day.

No traffic will be allowed on Rajpath from Vijay Chowk to India Gate from 6 pm on Saturday till the parade gets over on Sunday.

Amid raging CAA protests, India celebrates 71st Republic Day
Mumbai CSMT terminus and BMC HQ on the eve of the country's Republic Day in Mumbai, India, Saturday. Photo: Vishnu V Nair

CAA protests

Kerala will witness a massive protest led by the CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front in the form of a state-wide human chain, demanding withdrawal of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

The LDF has organised the 620 km long human chain from Kasaragod in north Kerala to Kaliyakkavilai in the southernmost part of the state and expect about 60 to 70 lakh people to participate in it.

The human chain will be formed at 4 PM following which the preamble of the Constitution will be read out.

Kolkata is also gearing up to organize a 11-km-long human chain on Sunday. Hundreds of people from different communities are likely to form the human chain from the north to the south of the city on Republic Day "to uphold unity and protect the Constitution", organisers said on Saturday.

The human chain from Shyambazaar in the north to Golpark in the southern part of the city will be formed at noon for 10 minutes, said organisers United Interfaith Foundation India (UIFI), an inter-faith group comprising leaders of different religious communities in the state.

India's military might, cultural heritage to be on display at Rajpath

India's rising military might, rich cultural diversity and socio-economic progress will be on full display during the 71st Republic Day celebrations at the Rajpath -- the city's centrepiece boulevard -- on Sunday.

Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro will be the chief guest at the 90-minute celebrations marking the anniversary of the day when India was declared a republic in 1950.

Anti-satellite weapon Shakthi, Army's battle tank Bhishma, infantry combat vehicles and newly inducted Chinook and Apache helicopters of the Indian Air Force will be part of the grand military parade.

The national capital has been brought under a massive ground-to-air security cover, with thousands of police and paramilitary personnel keeping a hawk-eye vigil.

Twenty-two tableaux 16 from States and Union Territories and six from various ministries and departments - depicting the nation's rich cultural heritage and economic progress will also roll down the Rajpath.

School children will convey age-old message of yoga and spiritual values through dance and music during the parade, the defence ministry said.

The Republic Day Parade ceremony will commence with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the National War Memorial near the India Gate. He will lead the nation in paying tributes to the martyrs by laying a wreath.

This is for the first time that the prime minister will pay homage to martyrs at the National War memorial instead of Amar Jawan Jyoti.

Thereafter, the prime minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the parade.

As per tradition, the national flag will be unfurled followed by the National Anthem with a booming 21-gun salute.

The parade will commence with President Ram Nath Kovind taking the salute. The parade will be commanded by Parade Commander Lt General Asit Mistry, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area. Major General Alok Kacker, Chief of Staff of Delhi Area, will be the second-in-command.

The first contingent in the uniform of the erstwhile Gwalior Lancers will be 61 Cavalry. The 61 Cavalry is the only active serving horse cavalry regiment in the world. It was raised on August 1, 1953 with the amalgamation of six state forces' cavalry units.

The Indian Army will be represented by a mounted column of 61 Cavalry, eight mechanised columns, six marching contingents and fly-past by Rudra and Dhruv Advanced Light helicopters of the army aviation wing.

Indigenously-developed Main Battle Tank of the Indian Army, T-90 Bhishma tank, infantry combat vehicle Ballway Machine Pikate, K-9 Vajra and Dhanush guns, transportable satellite terminal and Akash weapon system will be the main attraction in the mechanised columns.

The other marching contingents of the Army will include the Parachute regiment, the Grenadiers regiment, the Sikh Light Infantry regiment, the Kumaon regiment and the Corps of Signals.

The Naval contingent will comprise of 144 young sailors led by Lieutenant Jitin Malkat. It will be followed by the Naval Tableau titled 'Indian Navy - Silent, Strong, and Swift'.

The Air Force contingent, comprising of 144 air warriors, will be led by Flight Lt Shrikant Sharma. The Air Force tableau showcases scaled down models of the Rafale aircraft, the Tejas aircraft, the Light Combat helicopter, the Akash missiles system and the Astra missiles.

One of the main highlights will be the marching contingent of DRDO that will showcase Anti-Satellite Weapons (ASAT) - Mission Shakti.

Mission Shakti, India's first Anti-Satellite mission, was a major breakthrough in demonstrating the nation's capability to bring down hostile satellites.

Sixteen tableaux from various states and union territories will depict the geographical and rich cultural diversity of the country.

Various far-reaching reforms of the government including 'Start-up India', and 'Jal Jeevan Mission' will be showcased in six tableaux from different ministries and departments.

For the first time, a contingent of women bikers of CRPF will perform daredevil stunts. The contingent will be led by Inspector Seema Nag who will be seen saluting while standing atop a moving motorcycle.

The grand finale and the most keenly awaited segment of the parade, the Fly Past will comprise of the 'Trishul' formation by three advanced light helicopters.

It is for the first time that a 'tri-service formation' is taking part in the Republic Day Parade.

It will be followed by the 'Vic' formation of Chinook helicopters, used for airlifting diverse loads to remote locations.

Apache helicopters, Dornier aircraft, C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, an Airborne Early Warning and Control System aircraft and the 'Globe' formation comprising three C-17 Globemasters are also expected to enthral the people.

Five Jaguar Deep penetration strike aircraft and five MiG-29 upgrade air superiority fighters in 'Arrowhead' formation will also display their aerial manoeuvre.

The parade will culminate with a fleet of Sukhoi-30 MKI jets splitting the sky with a breathtaking 'Vertical Charlie' aerobatic manoeuvre.  

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