New Delhi: Sangram will majestically amble down Rajpath this Republic Day Jan 26. The 16-year-old camel of the Border Security Force (BSF) is set to be retired by the end of the year.
For Sangram, the oldest among the BSF’s camel contingent, it will be his 11th and last parade and watching him on Jan 26 will be not only Prime Minister Narendra Modi but also the chief guest, US President Barack Obama.
Sangram will be part of a contingent of 90 camels. He is an expert in executing commands,” says his handler Arab Khan, 45, with pride.
“Sangram is one of the luckiest camels of our contingent to display his last parade before the world’s most protected leader Barack Obama,” Khan told IANS.
Sangram, who stands at seven-and-a-half feet, was at the head of the camel contingent at last year’s parade but will this time be placed in the middle, behind the more youthful camels.
“Sangram was the front runner in last year’s Republic Day parade. As he has become old, we decided to shift him to the middle row of our contingent,” BSF Deputy Commandant Kuldeep Choudhary told IANS.
The camel leading the contingent at this year’s Republic Day will be a young camel with the batch number T7/10, the official said.
Sangram, who had the batch number S4/135, is a Jaisalmeri breed camel. He was inducted into the BSF on Jan 12, 2004 when he was five years old, and began participating in the parades from the next year onwards.
“Sangram is now in Delhi along with 99 other male camels. He is rehearsing for his career’s last Republic Day parade,” the BSF official said.
The BSF has an authorized strength of 1,200 male camels. Camels, mostly male, are acquired when they are five years old after a proper veterinary inspection. On an average, a camel serves the force for 15 years, said Choudhary.
The official, who has worked with the camel contingent, said Sangram was purchased for Rs.8,600 from Rajasthan’s Barmer district and trained at the BSF’s subsidiary training centre in Jodhpur.
Recalling Sangram’s time with the force, the official said: “Initially, he was deployed at Pokhran and later posted for border duties for five months. He was taken to the Jodhpur training centre in June 2004 where he is presently stationed.”
“Sangram first time participated in a BSF Day parade in 2004. Since then he has participated in several ceremonial parades,” he added.
The camel mounted contingent, commanded by Choudhary along with two subordinate officers (inspector and sub-inspector) and 88 other officers (head constables and constables) will be participating in this year’s parade.
A camel mounted band contingent commanded by sub-inspector Phoola Ram along with 35 other officers will also be part of the parade.