The presence of 32 Olympic winners, including javelin thrower Subedar Neeraj Chopra at the 75th Independence Day celebration on Sunday at the Red Fort became a centre of much delight and inspiration for many of the attendees at the function.
This year, in the Tokyo Olympics, India recorded its best-ever medal haul by bagging seven medals — one gold, two silver and four bronze.
Apart from Gold Medalist Chopra, Olympic Silver Medalist Mirabai Chanu and Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Bronze Medallist P.V. Sindhu, Bajarang Punia and Lovlina Borgohain, and the hockey team were seated at the Red Fort rampart.
“It was an honour to attend the Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort today. As an athlete and a soldier, my heart is full of emotion when I see the national flag flying high. Jai Hind,” gold medalist Chopra tweeted after the event.
Around 240 Olympians including boxer Mary Kom, support staff and SAI and sports federation officials were also invited to grace the Gyan Path in front of the ramparts of the Red Fort.
Similar to last year, the celebrations were subdued with fewer people invited to attend the event. COVID-19 guidelines and protocol were put in place at the Red Fort with guests and attendees seated at six-feet from each other.
Under each seat, a small water bottle, a mask, a small bottle of hand sanitiser, a pair of gloves and a hand towel were kept.
The school children, who form an integral part of the celebrations, were missing from this year’s event too. In their place, around 500 NCC cadets from various schools across the country attended the event.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was seen sporting a saffron headgear with red patterns, after delivering his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort was seen interacting with the Olympic athletics.
After the end of the event, many of the NCC cadets and the guests at the event were seen attempting to click pictures and selfies with the Olympic athletes and sportspersons.
Neeraj Chopra, who was a star attraction, was seen taking selfies with jawans and security men after the flag hoisting ceremony ended.
For the first time ever, flower petals were showered as the National Flag was hoisted by the Prime Minister by two Mi 17 1V helicopters of the IAF in Amrut Formation drawing loud applause and cheers.
Wing Commander Baldev Singh Bisht and Wing Commander Nikhil Mehrotra commanded the two choppers.
To honour the corona warriors who played a vital role in fighting the invisible enemy, a separate block on the south side of the ramparts was also created.
A huge wall of shipping containers, which was erected by the Delhi police at the main gate of the Red Fort for security reasons, was adorned with the murals of Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Sardar Patel, Rani Lakshmibai — Queen of Jhansi, along with other symbolic innovations and achievements.
The containers were put in place after many protesters driving tractors entered the Red Fort on January 26 and hoisted a religious flag.
The Delhi police had put a multi-layered security cover in place.
Over 5,000 security personnel were deployed. According to the police, an anti-drone system was installed at the Red Fort in view of the recent terror attack at the IAF station in Jammu airport.
In addition, over 350 cameras were installed and their footage monitored round the clock through two police control rooms situated in and around the Red Fort area.