Amid the pandemic gloom, a Republic Day parade like no other

Border Security Force soldiers atop camels rehearsing for the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Unlike previous years, the Republic Day celebrations are scaled down this year due to the pandemic. It would be without the usual festivity and fervour, with rigorous restrictions and stringent protocols.

Delhi Police has advised people to watch the live telecast of Republic Day parade at home due to COVID-19 protocols. Invitees attending parade at Rajpath have to comply with the COVID-19 advisory that includes temperature check, use of sanitiser, mask and social distancing.

Changes in R-Day parade due to the pandemic
  • All participants and performers will wear masks during parade
  • Only 25,000 spectators are allowed, including 4,000 general public
  • No shoulder-to-shoulder march with a distance of 1.5m between two persons
  • The parade will only march 3.5 km, earlier the distance was 8.5 km
  • The number of tableaus has been increased to 32. But will not be placed at Red Fort for public display
  • The size of every contingent has been cut short to 96 members instead of 144
  • Mask, temperature check, sanitiser and medical teams at each enclosure
  • Children below 15 years and elderly with co-morbidities will not be allowed
  • The newly inducted Rafale fighter aircraft will feature
  • Week-long ‘Bharat Parv’ event will not be celebrated
  • Only 4,000 seats for the Beating Retreat ceremony compared with 25,000 earlier
  • No standing spectators will be allowed
  • Source: Delhi Police

This time, there would not have a chief guest at the Republic Day parade. Earlier, there were three instances when there was no chief guest at the parade. The route of the marching contingent will end at the India Gate C-Hexagon instead of Red Fort.

No one under 15

A senior Delhi police officer said that this year, entry for parade will be strictly through invitation cards or tickets. The rest is advised to watch the live programme at home. Children below 15 years of age are not allowed for parade at Rajpath.

“To maintain social distancing protocols, only 25,000 spectators are being invited for the parade against 1 lakh spectators, who used to visit Rajpath on R-Day. It includes 4,000 people from the general public. The size of enclosures has been brought down to 22 from 38 in 2020,” added the officer.

Along with security personnel, medical teams will be deployed outside each enclosure to ensure health safety of visitors. To maintain social distancing, the entry gates have been increased from 198 to 224, he added.

ID compulsory

To ensure the safety of visitors, random checks of IDs will be carried out in New Delhi. People visiting New Delhi on January 25 and 26 are requested to carry their ID proof with them to avoid any inconvenience. “We have inputs that some terrorist organisations may carry out unwanted activities on January 26. Keeping this in mind, we have taken a few steps including putting up posters of wanted terrorists,” the officer added.

The Ministry of Defence has conveyed that in view of the COVID-19 scenario, no standing spectators would be allowed. At a meeting, discussion was done over visitors entering enclosures. To prevent any disruption by farmers protesting at Delhi borders, adequate security measures will be in place.

Another police officer said there were intelligence inputs that protesters might attempt to disrupt the parade. The intelligence wing is also keeping a watch on the protests. There will be more than 40,000 security personnel in New Delhi during the R-Day parade.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 2:47:38 AM |

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