The National Security Guard (NSG) commandos, who first came on the Rajpath for this event in 2017, are making a comeback this year, sources said.
The commandos, called ‘black cats’ due to their black-coloured overalls and stealth techniques, will be seen sporting their sophisticated weapons like the MP-5 assault rifle, dagger, night vision headgear, bullet proof jackets and counter-terror equipments like hydraulic lifts and anti-hijacking van ‘sherpa’.
The special force was raised in 1984 as the federal unit to undertake specialist counter-terror, counter-hijack and hostage rescue operations across the country.
The NSG, every year, also provides a sniper and combat security cover to the Republic Day event as part of its “immediate backup support” to secure the Rajpath and its nearby areas.
The Central Reserve Police Force tableau will depict the three primary areas of its deployment in the country — anti-Naxal operations theatre, duties in Jammu and Kashmir and counter-insurgency duties in the north east of the country — apart from assisting in various law and order duties like guarding the annual Amaranth Yatra route, sources said.
The about 3.25 lakh personnel strong force is designated as the lead internal security force of the country and this is the first time that its float will roll down the Rajpath as part of the parade.
Band personnel of the border guarding force BSF, dressed in their ceremonial regalia and sitting atop caparisoned camels, will play martial tunes and patriotic songs during the parade, like every year, sources said.
This ‘ship of the desert’ contingent first became part of the Republic Day parade in 1976 after it replaced a similar squad of the army which had been participating in the procession since it first took place in 1950.
The annual parade displays India’s military might, rich cultural diversity and socio-economic progress and as per sources, its duration and the capacity of people who can watch the parade from the ground has been brought down drastically this time to ensure that COVID-19 related protocols of safe distancing can be better followed.