R-Day parade drowns out boycott call

Huge turnout at Rajpath

Despite sections of people calling to boycott the 64th Republic Day parade following uproar over a 23-year-old woman’s gang rape last month, the event was attended by thousands as usual. Most enclosures along Rajpath were packed with public on Saturday.

Eager audience braved the winter chill and cheered loudly as the parade went past them portraying the country's rich cultural heritage and military prowess. The highlight of the 100-minute parade was the flypast by Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI.

“The entire flypast was performed with breathtaking stunts, and in a synchronised manner. It was a synergetic display of mind, body and machine coordination,” said Sobhana, a visitor from Gurgaon. The 56-year-old added that the gang rape incident was an embarrassment for the nation, but the parade portraying the diverse culture of the country was a medium to regain the lost pride.

She applauded the display on motorcycles by a team of 135 riders from the Army Service Corps. They performed standing salute, ladder balance, fish and back riding, long arm, and sudershan chakra under the leadership of Major S S Rathore.

The spectacle began at around 9.50 am after the customary 21-gun salute and unfurling of the national flag by President Pranab Mukherjee, which was followed by four army helicopters flying above Rajpath carrying the tricolour and flags of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The parade included 19 tableaux, of which 14 were from states and five from different ministries.

“I liked the tableau of Jammu and Kashmir which portrayed the making of the state’s famed pashmina shawls and Noori, the first cloned goat,” said an MNC employee Anandita Sapehiya.

Anandita added that pashmina shawls are made of 100 per cent pashmina fibre and thin enough to pass through a finger ring. “It is hardly possible these days, as lot of fake material is available in the market,” she added.

She admitted that she wanted to boycott the parade due to it being held at the very place where thousands of people were prevented from mourning the death of the gang rape victim. The 22-year-old said she finally decided to attend the event after being asked by her cousin brother and sister.

The grand finale of the parade was a spectacular flypast by the Air Force. It commenced with chakra formation, comprising three Mi-35 helicopters in ‘vic’ formation, followed by the hercules formation comprising three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

Trailing them was a big boy formation comprising one IL-78, flanked by two AN-32 and two Dorniers.
Then the breathtaking trishul formation comprising three Su-30 MKI fled over Rajpath and once in front of the saluting dais the Su-30MKI aircraft split upwards, making a trishul in the sky.

The flypast concluded with another Sukhoi Su-30 MKI carrying out a vertical charlie manoeuvre over the saluting dais.

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