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Friday, 26 January, 2001, 13:09 GMT
Tight security for India celebration
Republic Day parade
India's latest military hardware was on display
India has celebrated the 51st anniversary of the country becoming a republic in 1950 amid tight security because of fears of terrorist attacks.

Thousands of security personnel were deployed in the capital, Delhi, and across the country.

In the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir a call by separatists to boycott official celebrations left streets deserted as most people stayed indoors.

A strike call by separatists in north-east India evoked a similar response.

Military display

In Delhi, more than 50,000 police personnel took position around major landmarks.

Security check
Bomb disposal experts were deployed
Bomb disposal squads, sniffer dogs and helicopters were also pressed into service.

The day was marked with a traditional military and cultural parade on Rajpath, a central boulevard.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, President KR Narayanan and top officials and diplomats watched the parade from behind a special bullet-proof enclosure.

Some of India's latest military hardware was on display including medium-range Prithvi missiles and Arjun battle tanks.

They were followed by a march by soldiers drawn from various army regiments and colourful floats depicting the country's cultural heritage.

Strike call

In the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar, a security cordon was thrown around the main sports stadium where official celebrations were being held.


We prefer to stay indoors in view of the [rebel] threat

Assam trader Anjan Barua
Most people stayed indoors.

"This is the first time that I have seen such strict security measures in our area," local resident Majeed Wani said.

"Even milk vendors have been kept off the streets," he added.

Streets were also deserted across north-east India where 14 separatist rebel groups called for a boycott of official celebrations.

"We prefer to stay indoors in view of the [rebel] threat," a trader in Assam, Anjan Barua, said.

Honours

India gave its highest civilian honours to two venerable musical stars on the eve of Republic Day.

John Kenneth Galbraith
Mr Galbraith was a very popular ambassador
Singer Lata Mangeshkar, known as the Melody Queen, and shehnai virtuoso Ustad Bismillah Khan both received the Bharat Ratna, or Jewel of India.

Other awards went to the conductor Zubin Mehta, who was born in Bombay, and economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who served as US Ambassador to India in the days of Jawaharlal Nehru.

They received the Padma Vibushan, or Special Decoration of the Lotus, along with several musicians, a filmmaker and others.

A further 31 people received the Padma Bhushan, or Decoration of the Lotus, including world chess champion Vishnawathan Anand, filmmaker BR Chopra, and the president of Bell Laboratories, Arun Netravali.

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See also:

26 Jan 01 | South Asia
Republic Day in pictures
25 Jan 01 | South Asia
India Republic Day alert
22 Jan 01 | South Asia
Fears over Kashmir violence
10 Jan 01 | South Asia
India Republic Day boycott call
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