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SOURCE: PTI

President Droupadi Murmu will lead India in celebrating the 75th Republic Day with an imposing display of its rising military might and rich cultural heritage during a 90-minute parade at the majestic Kartavya Path on Friday.

The grand celebrations, with an overarching theme of projecting the nation’s women power and democratic values, will be graced by French President Emmanuel Macron as the chief guest. The armed forces will display an array of home-grown weaponry and military equipment such as missiles, drone jammers, surveillance systems, vehicle-mounted mortars and BMP-II infantry combat vehicles at the parade.

For the first time, an all-women tri-services contingent will be part of the country’s biggest ceremonial event.

In another historic first, Lieutenants Deepti Rana and Priyanka Sevda, who are among 10 women officers commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery for the first time last year, will lead the Swathi weapon locating radar and Pinaka rocket system at the parade.

The parade will be heralded by over 100 women artistes playing Indian musical instruments such as Sankh, Naadswaram, Nagada for the first time instead of the traditional military bands.

Around 15 women pilots will also enthrall the audience during the Indian Air Force’s fly-past, representing ‘Nari Shakti’ (women power). The contingents of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) will also consist of only women personnel.

The Republic Day parade will commence at 10:30 am and will run for a duration of around 90 minutes.

The ceremony will start with the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the National War Memorial, where he will lead the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

Minutes later, President Murmu and her French counterpart Macron will arrive in the ‘traditional buggy’, a practice that is making a comeback after a gap of 40 years, the defence ministry said.

The national flag will be unfurled followed by the national anthem with a booming 21-gun salute to be given with indigenous gun system 105-mm Indian Field Guns.

Four Mi-17 IV helicopters of 105 Helicopter Unit will shower flower petals on the audience present at Kartavya Path. This will be followed by ‘Aavaahan’, a band performance by over 100 women artistes playing various types of percussion instruments.

The parade will then commence with President Murmu taking the salute.

The parade will be commanded by Lieutenant General Bhavnish Kumar, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area.

The Kartavya Path will be witness to a march past by a combined band and marching contingent of the French Armed Forces.

A 30-member band contingent will be headed by Captain Khourda and will be followed by a 90-member marching contingent from France. Six Indians will be part of the French marching contingent.

One multi-role tanker transport aircraft and two Rafale fighter jets of the French Air and Space Force will fly above the contingents while they march past the saluting dais.

The first Indian Army contingent leading the Mechanised Column will be of 61 Cavalry to be led by Major Yashdeep Ahlawat. Raised in 1953, the 61 Cavalry is the only serving active Horsed Cavalry Regiment in the world. It will be followed by 11 Mechanised Columns, 12 marching contingents, and a fly past by Advanced Light Helicopters of Army Aviation Corps.

Tank T-90 Bhishma, NAG missile system, infantry combat vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, weapon locating radar system ‘Swathi’, drone jammer system, and medium range surface-to-air missile will be among the key displays by the mechanised columns.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent will comprise 144 airmen and four officers, and it will be led by Squadron Leader Rashmi Thakur.

Squadron Leaders Sumita Yadav, Pratiti Ahluwalia and Flight Lieutenant Kirti Rohil will march past as supernumerary officers behind the contingent commander.

The celebrations will end with the flypast by 46 aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

The IAF fleet will include 29 fighter jets, seven transport aircraft, nine helicopters and one heritage plane. All these aircraft will operate from six different bases.

Fifteen women pilots, including six from the fighter streams, will operate various IAF platforms during the fly-past.

For the first time, indigenously-built Tejas aircraft will fly in a formation of four aircraft.

There was a previous occasion of one Tejas jet being part of the Republic Day parade.

But for the first time the aircraft will fly in a formation.

Over 260 women personnel from CRPF, BSF and SSB will exhibit the country’s ‘Nari Shakti’ by carrying out daredevil stunts during the motorcycle display.

A total of 16 tableaux from states and Union territories and nine from central ministries and departments will roll down the Kartavya Path during the parade.

The states and Union territories are: Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Ladakh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.