When national fervour beat the cold (Republic Day Sidelights)

New Delhi, Jan 26: Even a bitterly cold day at 9.9 degrees Celsius could not deter the spirit of youngsters who had come to witness the 65th Republic Day parade at Rajpath in large numbers Sunday.

Standing atop chairs, young children were seen saluting the national flag and mimicking the marching contingents.

Despite repeatedly being asked to sit, the children could not hold back their urge to be a part of the parade – quite literally.

With the Tricolour painted on their cheeks and headgear reading “I am a fan on India” the ambiance was overflowing with fervour and national pride.

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Kejriwal, Najeeb share space

Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sat beside each other in the second row of the VIP enclosure adjoining the dais from where President Pranab Mukherjee took the salute at the Republic Day parade.

The seat reserved for Kejriwal’s wife was occupied by one of his close aides.

His head was covered with his trademark muffler and he wore his spectacles. After the parade, he reached home by 12.30 p.m.

Three other ministers of his cabinet — Somanth Bharti, Rakhi Birla and Girish Soni were seated in other rows.

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No phones, no means to reach the car!

With cellphones not being allowed inside the Rajpath enclosures, attendees were seen fretting near the parking lots after the Republic Day parade concluded.

“I had to use someone’s phone to call up my mother who has to send the car to pick me up. I feel so handicapped without my phone,” an invitee was heard complaining.

Many were heard complaining about the “ban”, wondering why it was imposed despite heavy police presence and tight security checks.

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Of perplexed police officers and traffic woes

Some police personnel on the various roads leading to Rajpath created more confusion than providing relief to motorists trying to reach their designated parking lots.

Some police personnel were seen contradicting their colleagues, confusing motorists already racing against time to reach the venue.

A few were forced to alight from their cars before the designated parking areas and walk to the venue only to be told they were “late”.

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Fly-past amid loud cheers and applause

“Wow, awesome,” said many, waving from the ground as Indian Air Force combat jets and transports staged a flypast to mark the culmination of the Republic Day parade.

The attendees, especially the children, stood up from their seats, making it difficult for the security personnel managing the crowd.

“You just need to look up, you do not need to stand,” the smiling officials were heard saying, trying to ensure that everyone enjoyed the event.

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Bravery award winners saluted

The children who won National Awards for Bravery were welcomed with loud applause with many spectators giving them a standing ovation.

Many returned the waves of the proud children standing atop their vehicles.

“You should also grow up to be a brave boy,” a mother was heard telling her son, who reassuringly smiled back.

IANS