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India displays military power, cultural life on national day

Thousands of Indians converged on a ceremonial boulevard in the Indian capital to watch a display of the country’s military power and cultural diversity amid tight security during Saturday’s national day celebrations. Schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through the capital’s parade route on a cold morning, followed by a military hardware display that included M777 Howitzer artillery guns, T-90 main battle tanks, locally made nuclear capable missile systems and infantry combat vehicles.

Indian army tanks and other military equipment roll past Rajpath, the ceremonial boulevard, during Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India on Jan 26. (AP)

Similar parades were held in other Indian states, including Jammu-Kashmir and Manipur, where separatist militants don’t accept Indian rule and called for general strikes. Police said government forces killed two suspected militants Saturday on the outskirts of Indian-held Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar.

A police statement said Indian troops laid a siege in the area based on “credible input” of presence of militants, leading to a gunfight. The slain militants “had serious plans of a terrorist act today,” the statement said. Suspected militants carried out at least half a dozen grenade attacks in the region on Friday, targeting police and paramilitary camps, police said. There were no reported injuries.

Most Kashmiris support the rebel cause that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. Authorities shut down the internet on mobile phones in the region, a common tactic to make organizing anti-India protests difficult and discourage dissemination of protest videos. The possibility of an insurgent attack prompted more than 50,000 police and paramilitary soldiers to guard the parade route in the Indian capital. (AP)

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