New Delhi: In spite of all the hype around surgical strikes carried out in Myanmar and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir by the elite Para Commandos, the Indian Army has decided not to showcase these heroes at Rajpath during the 68th Republic Day. Their space has been given to the Black Cat Commandos of the National Security Guard, who would be making their debut this year at the parade.
According to Major General Rajesh Sahai, Chief of Staff Delhi Area, the participation of Army units is decided much in advance. The challenge is to fit everything in around 90 minutes. The objective is to showcase Army, Air Force and Navy’s military might along with tableaux and cultural troops with some variation. This year, the NSG Commandos would be participating for the first time. Para Commandos were there last year and could come back next Republic Day, he added.
At Republic Day parades, Para Commandos are the only Army unit who participate in combat dress, holding their guns close to the chest. They march down the Rajpath in distinct style and always get huge cheer and applause from spectators. During Republic Day Parade 2016, the marching contingent of Para Commandos received a standing ovation from many, including Union Minister of State for I&B Col (Retd.) Rajya Vardhan Singh Rathore.
However, the absence of Army paratroopers will be compensated by the presence of another elite commando force, the NSG, who would be marching down the Rajpath in full combat gear and their sophisticated equipment. NSG contingent would be showcasing their capabilities to carry out counter-terror operations. Just a year ago, NSG Commandos were pressed in action to flush out terrorists, who entered the Pathankot Air Force Base. During Republic Day Parade, 100 NSG Commandos would be participating. While 72 Commandos will be part of the marching contingent, rest of the commandos will be seen in specialised vehicles. Representation of bomb detection and disposal equipment along with trained dogs unit would also be there.
Former Deputy Chief of Army and one of the founding members of NSG, Lt. Gen Raj Kadyan says that showcasing NSG at Republic Day Parade is a timely recognition of their importance at a time when the country is facing challenges of terrorism. However, he says that absence of Para Commandos should not be interpreted as though their importance has come down. According to Lt. Gen Kadyan, even in NSG, the counter-terror team comprises soldiers from Army’s Para Units who go on deputation to this elite force. So in a way people would see Para Commandos, in different gears and colours, he added.