NEW DELHI: Thousands gathered in New Delhi amid tight security Tuesday for India’s annual Republic Day parade, a pomp-filled spectacle of military might featuring camels and daredevil stunt riders, with French President Francois Hollande the chief guest.
A contingent of French infantry in India for joint military exercises led the march down the capital’s central Rajpath avenue, the first time foreign forces have ever taken part in the parade.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Hollande as chief guest in a show of solidarity with France after Islamist attacks in Paris last November killed 130 -- recalling a 2008 assault on Mumbai that killed 166.
The two leaders agreed in talks Monday to deepen cooperation on counter-terrorism in the wake of the Paris attacks and a deadly siege this month on an Indian air force base near the Pakistan border.
The mood on Tuesday was more celebratory, with Modi -- sporting a gold turban that rivalled the spectacular military headgear on display -- and Hollande chatting as they sat side by side in a bulletproof glass enclosure.
An estimated 10,000 spectators braved thick smog and air quality levels classified as hazardous on the US embassy website to watch the display.
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