NEW DELHI: At a time when New Delhi and Dhaka are going to jointly celebrate the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence, a marching contingent of Bangladesh Army comprised of 96 soldiers are taking part in India’s Republic Day Parade this year.
This is for the second time that any foreign country’s troops have been invited to participate in the biggest ceremonial event at Rajpath in New Delhi, officials at the Indian Defence Ministry confirmed on Sunday.India has invited Bangladesh Army to take part in this year’s Republic Day Parade to be held on January 26 next.
The marching contingent of Bangladesh Army will carry their BD-08 rifles — a licence-produced variant of the Chinese Type 81 7.62mm assault weapon.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day Parade of India.
Foreign soldiers took part in the parade for the first time in 2016 when a French army contingent of 130 soldiers marched down Rajpath. The then French President, Francois Hollande, witnessed the parade as the chief guest that year.
The parade this year will be shorter, involve fewer participants and only a fourth of the usual number of spectators due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Not more than 25,000 spectators will be allowed at Rajpath this year compared to over 100,000 people who usually turn up for the parade. Children below 15 will not be permitted at the parade.The marching contingents will be seen in a rectangular formation this year instead of the traditional square formation as fewer participants are being allowed in the squads.
The squads will only have 96 participants each compared to 144 in the ordinary course. The shortened route of the parade will see it end at the National Stadium instead of Red Fort, the officials said.
Last year’s Independence Day celebrations were also muted as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and measures imposed to check the spread of the Covid-19 with fewer VIPs attending the annual August 15 event at Delhi’s Red Fort while schoolchildren skipped it altogether.