Army personnel during a parade (representational image) | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
Army personnel during a parade | Representational image | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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New Delhi: A tri-service contingent of the Indian armed forces is set to participate in the military parade at Red Square in Moscow on 24 June to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Russian victory in World War II, the Army said Friday. 

The tri-service contingent will be led by a colonel-rank officer and will comprise 75 personnel of all ranks from the three services, the Army said in a statement.

The Army will be led by a major-rank officer of the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment, which is known to have fought in World War II, and earned four Battle Honours and two Military Cross apart from other gallantry awards. 

The development comes amid a suspension of foreign training and visits of all armed forces personnel in the wake of Covid, even as they are likely to resume by next month. 

In 2015, a 75-member Army contingent from the Grenadiers regiment took part in the military parade in Moscow during the Victory Day celebrations.

Russia is one of the important strategic partners of India. As reported by ThePrint, New Delhi has apprised Moscow of the latest developments along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh earlier this month.

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Why is the parade important?

Military historian Mandeep Bajwa told ThePrint the event marks Soviet victory in World War II. 

“It was a real victory won against great odds, with tremendous sacrifices by the Russian people (20 million dead). Indian troops too contributed greatly to the Allied victory,” he said.

Talking about the Indian contingent’s participation, he said while the pandemic is a matter of concern, it is good to remind the world of India’s contribution to the fight against fascism, and for freedom and justice. 

“We raised the world’s largest all-volunteer Army of 2.5 million men,” he added. 

Bajwa further said the participation is particularly important at a time India is seeking a permanent membership of the UN Security Council. 

“Remember the UN was formed by the victors of WW-II,” he added.

‘All the more important for India to participate’

Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board and former ambassador to Russia P.S. Raghavan told ThePrint it is a major, historic event, which must be commemorated and something which India has consistently celebrated. 

“In fact, in 2015, President Pranab Mukherjee attended the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Victory Day,” he said.  

“Russia is one of the key strategic partners and has deep-rooted ties with India. Through the event, we also pay homage to the soldiers who fought the war. Major western countries have participated in this celebration of the Allied victory over Nazism. Because of their acrimonious relations with Russia, they are now staying away. It is all the more important for India to participate in the event,” he added.

According to the Army statement, during World War II, the British Indian armed forces were one of the largest Allied forces contingents, which took part in the North and East African Campaign, Western Desert Campaign and the European Theatre against the Axis powers. 

These campaigns have seen sacrifices by over 87,000 Indian servicemen, the statement said.

“The valour of the Indian soldiers was recognised with the award of over 4,000 decorations, which also included the award of 18 Victoria and George Cross,” it stated. 

“In addition, the then Soviet Union appreciated the valour of the Indian armed forces and by the decree of 23 May 1944, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR signed by Mikhail Kalinin and Alexander Gorkin awarded the prestigious Orders of the Red Star to Subedar Narayan Rao Nikkam and Havildar Gajendra Singh Chand of Royal Indian Army Service Corps,” it added.

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