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Opinion

Bangladesh Army to Participate in Republic Day Parade

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A contingent of the Bangladesh army will take part in the Republic Day parade this year, the second time foreign soldiers will march down Rajpath as part of India’s largest ceremonial event, officials familiar with the development said on Saturday.

The Bangladeshi contingent has been invited to participate in the parade at a time when the two countries are celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the birth of Bangladesh. The marching contingent will be comprised of 96 soldiers and will carry their BD-08 rifles, a licensed variant of the Chinese 7.62mm Type 81 assault weapon.

Bangladesh’s artillery factories produce more than 10,000 assault rifles of this type every year.

Foreign soldiers took part in the parade for the first time in 2016 when a French army contingent of 130 soldiers marched through Rajpath. Then-French President Francois Hollande witnessed the parade as the main guest that year.

This year’s parade will be shorter, involving fewer participants and only a quarter of the usual number of spectators, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hindustan Times reported on December 30.

No more than 25,000 spectators will be allowed on Rajpath this year, compared to the more than 100,000 people who usually attend the parade. Children under the age of 15 will not be allowed in the parade.

The marching contingents will be seen in a rectangular formation this year, rather than the traditional square formation, as fewer participants are allowed in squads. The templates will only have 96 participants, compared to 144 for the ordinary course. The shortened parade route will see it end at the National Stadium rather than the Red Fort, officials said.

Last year’s Independence Day celebrations were also muted as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and measures imposed to control the spread of the disease, with fewer personalities attending the annual August 15 event at Delhi’s Red Fort, while the schoolchildren completely omitted it.

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