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Monday, January 27, 2014

Republic Day parade in Mumbai

Army refuses to be led by cops on Republic Day parade in Mumbai

MUMBAI: With the state planning an extravagant show on Marine Drive for the first time, the army and the navy have managed to completely sideline the police in their own state capital.

The top brass of Maharashtra police is miffed with the state government for submitting to what they call the armed forces' "unreasonable diktat" to marginalize the state police's role in tomorrow's
Republic Day Parade.

The Republic Day Parade is happening on Marine Drive for the first time this year. Till last year, only the navy and the police used to participate and the parade was led by a police officer. This year, the state government wanted an extravagant parade on the promenade and decided to include the army and air force and a display of their artillery.

Sources in the know said the navy agreed to participate on the condition that only a defence officer will lead the parade, while a police officer could be the second lead.

After the state agreed to this condition, the army stepped in, saying the armed forces contingent will not march under the leadership of a police officer, even if he was the second lead. The state, sources said, meekly agreed to this condition also. The navy then delivered the final blow, compelling the state to discontinue the traditional ceremony of distributing medals to police personnel during the parade.

The state police was stunned by this sharp departure from the nation-wide tradition of parades in state capitals being led by the local police. Till late on Friday, the police bosses were so miffed that they were bent on withdrawing the police contingent from the parade.

But top bureaucrats intervened and convinced the state police to acquiesce to the armed forces' demands, resulting in discontent in the police rank and file against the state government for the shabby treatment.

"The naval contingent never objected to a police officer leading the parade till now," said a senior IPS officer who did not want to be named.

"Thus, though we were surprised by their demand that they will lead the parade, we agreed to it. But the navy's second demand was outrageous and unacceptable. They forced the state to discard the traditional ceremony of presentation of medals to policemen. Then the army came in and deprived the police of the second lead also. Worse, the government agreed to all these things despite the strong objection of top police officers."

Sources close to state Home Minister RR Patil said he was kept in the dark about the developments. They said he, too, lodged a strong protest during the cabinet meeting on Wednesday when he was informed about the plan.

But state government officials insisted there was nothing wrong with the arrangements. "I attended the full dress rehearsal on Friday morning and I feel there is no problem," said Chief Secretary JS Saharia.

Protocol Minister Suresh Shetty and additional chief secretary (protocol) Sumit Mallick refused to comment on the issue. Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal was not available for comment.

Lieutenant General P R Shankar, commanding officer, Maharashtra-Gujarat-Goa, told Mumbai Mirror, "We will follow the same protocol as is done for the Republic Day parade in Delhi. There will be no deviation from it."

Thirty-four platoons, including 10 from the police and 10 from the armed forces, will participate in the parade.

Personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force, the state excise department, school students and differentlyabled children will also participate.

While the army will parade its artillery, the air force will deploy a lone helicopter and the navy will line up its fast attack craft along Marine Drive.

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