Bangladeshi contingent to take part in India’s Republic Day Parade

Diplomatic Correspondent

25 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The 122-member contingent of Bangladesh Armed Forces, who are now in New Delhi to participate in India’s Republic Day Parade on January 26, displayed an impressive full dress-rehearsal on Saturday.

The Bangladeshi contingent, drawn from all the three services – Army, Navy and Air Force, will be the first marching contingent to walk down the ceremonial boulevard marking the 72nd Republic Day parade on Rajpath in New Delhi.

The Bangladeshi contingent will lead the first ten rows of the parade. The contingent will be led by the Bangladesh Army which will be in the first six rows, the next two rows will be led by the Bangladesh Navy and the last two rows will comprise Bangladesh Air Force.   

A marching-cum-band contingent of the Bangladesh Armed Forces is also taking part in the parade.

The event is especially significant as the year 2021 marks the Golden Jubilee of Independence of Bangladesh. Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation, free from Pakistan's tyranny and oppression through a nine-month long war in which three million Bangladeshis laid down their lives.

India provided all-out help to Bangladesh in the 1971 Liberation War.

Indian leading newspapers, TV channels and online media have been widely covering the participation of Bangladeshi troops in the parade.

When the 122 personnel of the Bangladesh armed forces will be marching on Rajpath alongside their Indian counterparts on January 26, they will not only feel proud to be participating in India’s Republic Day parade for the first time but will also be “expressing gratitude and respects to all those Indian military personnel who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of our country, reports The Times of India (TOI) in its January 24 issue and gave a wide coverage of march-past rehearsal held on Saturday.

Talking to TOI after the full-day parade rehearsal on Saturday, Bangladesh Army Colonel Mohtashim Hyder Chowdhury, who is heading the contingent, said, “It’s a great honour for us to become part of India’s 72nd Republic Day parade. Most of the parade personnel are from those Bangladesh units that were raised during the 1971 Liberation War.”

“In fact, we are very fortunate to be part of the parade of ‘our friend’ India at a time when our country is celebrating 2020-21 year as the birth centenary of our father of nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and also the 50th year of Bangladesh’s independence.”

Colonel Chowdhury, an infantry officer with 26 years of service, said, “There will be two contingents, one marching contingent and one military band. The military contingent will comprise personnel from three services and will be led by a flight lieutenant, navy lieutenant, one Major and three Lt Colonels and there are a few reserves.”

This will be the third time India will be hosting a foreign contingent to participate in the parade after the French troops in 2016 and the UAE personnel in 2017.

Chief of Staff (Delhi area) Major General Alok Kacker, who is also the parade second-in-command, told TOI that “It is a proud and emotional moment for me as I welcome the Bangladesh contingent.”

This is because his father, Brig PN Kacker commanded the second battalion in 9 Gorkha Rifles that fought in the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. In fact, his battalion fought pitched battles against Pakistani troops and crossed the Madhumati river for which his unit later won a battle honour (Kamarkhali). “I feel proud to be a second-generation officer from the same unit,” Alok Kacker said.

On difficulties faced while travelling to a foreign country amid the pandemic, Col Mohtashim Chowdhury said, “Due to Covid restrictions, we have to stay in quarantine for some days after landing in India on January 12 and thereafter we all have undergone Covid tests.”

“For the last few days, we have been practicing as the [cold] weather in Delhi is different from that of our country. We are not venturing out much from our hotel so as to remain isolated and fit for the parade,” he said.

 A Bangladesh Army doctor is also accompanying the contingent to provide medical support.