NEW DELHI– India’s 67th Republic Day was celebrated across cities and towns on Tuesday, with the country’s military might on display in the capital where French troops made history by joining the impressive parade.
French President Francois Hollande, the chief guest, watched admiringly the 90-minute splendour where President Pranab Mukherjee took salute from the military. It ended with colourful tableaux marking India’s cultural diversity, a daredevil motorcycle show and a grand flypast by air force fighters.
Across the country, governors and chief ministers unfurled the national flag and took salute from military and police units. The celebrations went off peacefully everywhere.
A contingent from the French 35th Infantry Regiment – elements of which served in India in 1781-84 – got the honour of leading the marching contingents and it performed with panache, preceded by a pipes and drums band. It is the first time a foreign army unit took part in the event.
The French apart, there was much that was different this time. The armoured element was bare-boned – just the T-90 Bhishma main battle tank and the BMP infantry combat vehicle – the marching contingents were fewer, as were the massed bands.
In another break with tradition, the young recipients of the National Awards for Bravery came up towards the end.
At the official function at the Maualana Azad stadium in Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra hoped the state will get an elected government soon.
He also paid tribute to late chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, whose death on January 7 led to Governor’s Rule in the troubled state. Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti, tipped to lead a new PDP-led government in the state, attended the Republic Day event in Srinagar.
In Srinagar, separatist leaders were put under house arrest to foil protests.
In Maharashtra, Governor C.V. Rao unfurled the national flag and took the ceremonial salute in Mumbai. Lakhs of people enthusiastically took part in events in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik and elsewhere.
The day was celebrated across Karnataka with patriotic fervour. Governor Vajubhai R. Vala hoisted the tricolour and reviewed guard of honour at the Manekshaw Parade Ground in Bengaluru.
Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah unfurled the national flag at the Marina beach in Chennai and took the salute from contingents of the armed forces. Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and thousands of people enjoyed the colourful floats.
In Vijayawada, Governor E.S.L. Narasimha said with double-digit growth in the first half of the current fiscal, Andhra Pradesh was making big strides despite the problems following its bifurcation.
In Patna, Governor Ram Nath Kovind hoisted the tricolour and took salute at an impressive parade. He said the rule of law prevailed in Bihar. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hoisted the flag at his residence.
The main event in Rajasthan took place in Bikaner, where Governor Kalyan Singh unfurled the Indian flag in a packed Karni Singh Stadium. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje attended the event.
Odisha Governor S.C. Jamir unfurled the tricolour in Bhubaneswar. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik hoisted it in Cuttack. Maoist calls to boycott the celebrations failed to evoke any response.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal unfurled the national flag at Bathinda as his father and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, 88, is unwell.
Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki unfurled the flag in Chandigarh. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar did so in Gurgaon.
West Bengal Governor K.N. Tripathi took the salute at a colourful marchpast from the army, navy and air force personnel on the Indira Gandhi Sarani in Kolkata. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also attended.
The Left Front formed a human chain in the city in support of secular values.
The northeast joined the festivities with enthusiasm.
In Guwahati, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi unfurled the national flag and vowed to work for peace in the state.
In Aizawl, Governor Nirbhay Sharma praised the civil society and NGOs for making Mizoram one of the most peaceful states in the country.
After hoisting the tricolour, Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy spoke on steadily improving India-Bangladesh ties and better connectivity between Dhaka and northeastern cities.
Republic Day was celebrated in all nine districts of Manipur without any major untoward incident despite boycott calls and general strikes called by militants. A few hundred trucks, buses and other vehicles were stranded along the national highways as a result of the general strike call.