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Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha, PM Modi salutes Indian soldiers

Source : The Hindu

Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha, PM Modi salutes Indian soldiers

Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha, PM Modi salutes Indian soldiers

Paris (France): The strains of Sare Jahan Se Accha rang through the Champs-Élysées on July 14, as a 242-member Indian military contingent marching in France’s Bastille Day parade saluted chief guest Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron. Welcoming Mr. Modi, Mr. Macron said that India was “a giant in world history, with a decisive role to play in the future, a strategic partner, a friend.”

Both the marching contingent and the band have historical connections to France, being some of the oldest units of the Indian Army. They fought in both World Wars, with many members laying down their lives in battlefields here and being decorated for their sacrifices.


“This July 14, soldiers and Rafale aircraft from India are marching and flying alongside our troops. We honour the memory of those who fought with the French in the First World War. We shall never forget,” Mr. Macron said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi salutes Indian troops as French President Emmanuel Macron looks on during the Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2023.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi salutes Indian troops as French President Emmanuel Macron looks on during the Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2023. (Photo Credit: AP)

Bastille Day, which is France’s national day, marks the anniversary of the storming of the infamous Bastille prison in 1789 during the French Revolution. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the first Indian chief guest at a Bastille Day parade in 2009. Mr. Modi became the second Indian PM to play this role, as India and France mark 25 years of their strategic partnership this year.

IAF Rafales in flypast

The parade began with a flypast by French aircraft, showing the colours of the French national flag, followed by a formation of three Rafale fighter jets of the Indian Air Force and a French Air Force Rafale. The marching contingents began as the flypast ended.

The Indian Army contingent, comprising 68 marching personnel from the Punjab Regiment and 38 band members from the Rajputana Rifles, was led by Captain Aman Jagtap. Their brisk march in unison, hands swinging high, drew applause and appreciation from many onlookers as well as several members of the French military.

World War memories

Indian troops saw participation across theatres in both World Wars. Over 1.3 million Indian soldiers participated in World War I; almost 74,000 of these fought in the trenches and never returned, while another 67,000 were wounded. In World War II, a staggering 2.5 million Indian soldiers fought in locales from Asia to Africa and Europe, including the battlefields of France.

Troops of the Punjab Regiment took part in both World Wars, as well as in post-independence operations. In World War I, they were awarded 18 Battle and Theatre Honours. “The gallant soldiers fought in Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, Palestine, Egypt, China, Hongkong, Damascus and France,” the Army said, in a statement. “In France, they took part in an offensive near Neuve Chapelle in September 1915 earning the Battle Honours ‘Loos’ and ‘France and Flanders’. In World War II, they earned 16 Battle Honours and 14 Theatre Honours.”

The Rajputana Rifles is the seniormost rifle regiment of the Indian Army and took part in some of the bloodiest battles of both the World Wars. The band of the Regiment was raised in 1920 at Nasirabad, Rajasthan. “During the World War II, the battalions of the Regiment fought in every theatre where the Indian Army was involved. They are the recipient of six Victoria Cross prior to independence,” the Army said.

Navy destroyer in France

The Naval contingent comprised four officers and 64 sailors, and was led by Cdr. Vrat Baghel, a specialist in gunnery and missile warfare who earlier sailed on the French ship BCR Var during bilateral exercise Varuna. His three deputies were Lt. Cdr. Disha Amrith, who led the Indian Navy contingent at the Republic Day Parade 2023, Lt. Cdr. Rajat Tripathi, and Lt. Cdr. Jittin Lalitha Dharmaraj.

In addition to the contingent, the Indian Navy was also represented by INS Chennai, an indigenously designed and constructed guided missile destroyer, which is on deployment to France from July 12 to 16. The ship’s crew represented India at the Bastille Day celebrations at Brest, a port city in northwestern France, the Navy said.

IAF’s French connection

The IAF flying contingent in Paris comprised four Rafale fighter jets, two C-17 Globemasters, and 72 IAF personnel. The IAF observed that many Indians — including Welinkar, Shivdev Singh, H.C. Dewan and Jumbo Majumdar — fought over the skies of France during the two World Wars. Some, like Jumbo Majumdar, were also decorated for their gallant actions over the Falaise Gap during the terminal phase of World War II, the IAF noted.

In addition, the IAF has a long history of operating French aircraft, starting with the Ouragan, followed by fighter aircraft like the Breguet Alize, Mystere IVA, SEPECAT Jaguar, and Mirage 2000, with the Rafale jets being the latest in this illustrious line. Helicopters Alouette-III and Lama continue to fly with the three services, acting as a lifeline in remote high altitude areas. The IAF’s marching contingent was commanded by Squadron Leader Sindhu Reddy, a helicopter pilot who has extensively flown the Alouette-III. Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha Indian Tri-service contingent marches in Paris to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Accha IgMp

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