The Republic Day parade on January 26 next year will witness the BSF’s first-ever women contingent riding camels along with their male counterparts, a top officer said on Wednesday.
The famed camel contingent of the Border Security Force has been a part of the Republic Day celebrations since 1976 after it replaced a similar squad of the Army which had been participating in the annual parade since it was first held in 1950.
It comprises armed BSF personnel and members of the band contingent. They follow the foot marching contingent on Kartavya Path, earlier known as Rajpath.
Half of the personnel part of the camel contingent at the next Republic Day parade will be women, BSF Director General Pankaj Kumar Singh told reporters on the eve of the 58th Raising Day of the force.
“This is an indicator of the increasing role of our women personnel in various duties and ceremonies," he said.
The BSF is the only force in the country to use camels for both operational and ceremonial duties.
They are used by BSF personnel for patrolling along the Thar desert running along the Indo-Pak international border in Rajasthan.
The contingent usually comprises 90 camels — 54 with troops and the rest with band personnel. According to tradition, the lead camel contingent on Republic Day showcases smartly dressed armed BSF border guards sporting big moustaches, and the second follows with bandsmen in beautiful multicolour dresses riding camels and playing martial music.
The contingent is also part of the Beating the Retreat ceremony that is held three days after Republic Day on January 29. It stands on the ramparts of the North and South Blocks atop Raisina Hill.
The BSF was raised on December 1, 1965 and it is primarily tasked with guarding international borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It has about 2.65 lakh personnel in its ranks as part of 193 battalions and some other field formations.
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