NEW DELHI: As India celebrated its 68th Republic Day, soldiers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) led the parade at Rajpath, the ceremonial road where President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Chief Guest, were among hundreds of viewers.
Delegates from UAE stood up to take photos as a contingent of 179 of their soldiers from the army, navy and air force marched past, accompanied by their military band.
The UAE is the second country after France to send its troops to participate in India’s Republic Day parade. The tradition of the chief guest’s country participating in the parade started last year.
In a special tribute to India on its 68th Republic Day, Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, was lit up like the Indian Flag. The musical fountains next to the world’s tallest building leapt to the music of Jai Ho and Vande Mataram, as a mile high electronic flag draped the Burj. India shares a strong friendship with UAE. Prime Minister Modi has called the United Arab Emirates a valued partner.
The troops from the Arab country also participated in the full dress rehearsal at Rajpath.
They marched just after the Parade Commander, his second-in-command and Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra Award winners walked past the Rajpath after paying respect to the President, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Force.
Among the gallantry award winners is Havaldar Hangpan Dada, posthumous recipient of the Ashok Chakra, the highest military award. The soldier killed three terrorists in Nowgam in Jammu and Kashmir last year.