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Navya Naveli, Pune

Marking the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership between India and France, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the bilateral relation as “strong, trusted and consistent.” As a tribute, the Indian Air Force’s Rafales and tri-service groups arrived in France to rehearse for the Bastille Day parade in Paris. After 2009 when then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the parade as the guest of honor, this year, present Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed it. 

As the military contingents marched down the streets, three IAF Rafales flew over a famous landmark in Paris, Champs-Elysees, along with the band playing Saare Jahan Se Acha. The Rajputana Rifles Regiment, the Indian Air Force, and the Indian Navy followed the Indian Army contingent led by the Punjab Regiment. Modi praised the 242 Indian Military members who participated in the march and the French marching and mechanized units who followed them by posting a video on Twitter, captioned as “Every Indian would be proud to see this.” 

Squadron Leader Sindhu Reddy, a woman helicopter pilot, led the IAF contingent of 68 members. He had also led the 144-member IAF contingent at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi this year.

The Indian participation was seen seven years after the French contingent took part in the Republic Day Parade 2016. Captain Aman Jagtap commanded the Indian contingent where as Commander Vrat Baghel commanded the Naval contingent. The parade was extra special for the Punjab Regiment as they had fought alongside the French troops in the two world wars and the post-independence operations.

During the practice, the army stated, “The troops of the Punjab regiment have participated in both the World Wars as well as the post-independence operations. In World War I, they were awarded 18 Battle and Theatre Honors. The gallant soldiers fought in Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, Palestine, Egypt, China, Hong Kong, Damascus, and France. In France, they took part in an offensive near Neuve Chapelle in September 1915, earning the Battle Honors ‘Loos’ and ‘France and Flanders.’ In World War II, they earned 16 Battle Honors and 14 Theatre Honors.” 

The navy sent INS Chennai, the guided missile destroyer, to France from July 12 to July 16 to mark the event.