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R-Day celebrated with colourful parades across India; CAA protests in West Bengal, blasts in Assam

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Colourful Republic Day parades capturing India’s rich diversity were held across the country on Sunday as states listed out their achievements and outlined development agendas, but the occasion was marred in Upper Assam by four back-to-back explosions, claimed by the banned ULFA (I).

The celebrations were held amid tight security across the country.

Anti-CAA protesters at several places unfurled the tricolour, formed human chains and took the pledge to “protect the Constitution”. Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and BJP MLA Angoorlata Deka were shown black flags by anti-CAA protesters at separate locations in the state when they were on their way to attend functions.

This was the first Republic Day for Jammu and Kashmir after its special status was withdrawn on August 5 last year and the erstwhile state was divided into two Union Territories.

Lt Governor GC Murmu unfurled the national flag at the main function in Jammu. In Kashmir, the day was celebrated amidst tight security with authorities suspending mobile services till evening. The main event was held at the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium, where LG’s advisor Khan presided over the function, but most mainstream politicians stayed away.

The national capital was also under a multi-layer, ground-to-air security cover with thousands of armed personnel, aided by dozens of drones and hundreds of CCTV cameras and facial recognition devices, keeping a tight vigil.

Anti-CAA protesters at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh unfurled the National Flag, sang the National Anthem amid the chants of “CAA se Azaadi, NRC se Azaadi, BJP se Azaadi (freedom from CAA, NRC and BJP)”.

Photo: PTI

National carrier Air India distributed 30,000 Indian flags made of eco-friendly seed paper among its passengers. It also put up a big hoarding at the historic Lal Chowk in Srinagar to congratulate the people on 71st Republic Day.

In Uttar Pradesh, 71 contingents comprising the army, paramilitary, police personnel and schoolchildren marched through the streets.

In Uttarakhand, Governor Baby Rani Maurya raised the issue of female foeticide in her address, terming it as the worst sin and said the safety of daughters is a collective responsibility.

Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh also joined the nation in celebrating the day.

In the east and northeastern parts of the country, governors in respective states, unfurled the tricolour and presided over the ceremonial parade.

Instead of Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy, who is on leave since December, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma presided over the main function in Shillong.

In Assam, Governor Jagdish Mukhi said the state government was committed to protect the political, cultural and linguistic rights of the indigenous people.

In West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar led the celebrations and hoisted the national flag. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who attended the programme with her cabinet colleagues, greeted the governor at the conclusion of the programme.

In Kolkata, an interfaith group of people came out on the streets and formed human chains in various parts of the city as a mark of protest against the CAA.

Photo: PTI

In Jharkhand, Governor Droupadi Murmu insisted that unemployment was a burning issue and the government would take initiative to fill vacancies at panchayat offices and state departments.

At a separate function, Chief Minister Hemant Soren called upon people to work for the welfare of the state, rising above their cultural and religious identities.

Expressing concern over climate change, Bihar Governor Fagu Chauhan stressed on the importance of environment conservation on the occasion and lauded the state government for its efforts to generate awareness on the issue.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was the guest of honour at the state capital’s Republic Day programme, led by Governor Ganeshi Lal, exhorted people to work selflessly for the benefit of the state.

Nagaland Justice and Law Minister C M Chang, speaking at an event in Dimapur, said, “The Centre’s negotiations with all Naga political groups have concluded successfully and we are now hopeful for an early solution.”

Arunachal Pradesh Governor BD Mishra said satellite-based monitoring and geo-tagging technology would be employed to keep a tab on all development projects in the state. He urged people to fight against corruption.

In Mizoram, Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai appealed to people to strive for excellence and make concerted efforts to usher in integrated development.

Enlisting the achievements of the Tripura government, Governor Ramesh Bais said efforts were being made to boost trade connectivity with Bangladesh, which, in the long run, would benefit the entire region.

Meanwhile, four powerful explosions – 3 in Dibrugarh and one in Charaideo districts – rocked Upper Assam between 8.15 and 8.25 am, a police officer said.

RAF personnel stand guard at the site of the blasts. (Photo: PTI)

But there has been no report of any casualty, he said. Banned outfit ULFA (Independent) claimed the responsibility for the powerful explosions.

In southern states, the day was celebrated with pomp and show.

In Telangana, Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan said in her speech that the state stood first in many sectors, but it was lagging behind in literacy and the government will soon announce an action plan to make the state fully literate. AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi hoisted the tricolour and read the Preamble of the Constitution in the old city of Hyderabad, party sources said.

In Kerala, leading the celebrations, Governor Arif Mohammed unfurled the national flag at the state-level celebration.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan participates in an anti-CAA protest. (Photo: PTI)

Mosques under the Wakf Board and the Latin churches hoisted the national flag and read out the preamble to the Constitution after the routine prayer.

A 620-km-long human chain from Kasaragod in north Kerala to Kaliyakkavilai in the southernmost part of the state was formed by the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front, demanding withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit led the celebrations in the state, unfurling the national flag at the Marina.

Photo: PTI

Andhra Pradesh is poised to march on the path of inclusive growth through decentralisation of administration, Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan said.

The day was celebrated with fanfare in Karnataka with an eye-catching march past, cultural events and breathtaking stunts by the defence personnel.

In Gujarat, daredevil stunts performed by police personnel on motorcycles and horses, tableaux showing achievements of the state and cultural events marked the Republic Day event held at Rajkot in Saurashtra.

Republic Day event at Rajkot. (Photo: PTI)

A group of senior citizens and children unfurled the tricolour by standing in sea water off Porbandar coast, while students of Jamnagar took out a ‘tiranga yatra’ holding the 111-metre long national flag.

In Maharashtra, a horse-mounted police unit, introduced in Mumbai after 88 years, and tableaux on various themes, including environment and wildlife, were part of the 71st Republic Day parade held at Shivaji Park.

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari hoisted the national flag at the official ceremony, where Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, state DGP Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, Mumbai

Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve and others were present.

Photo: PTI

In Chhattisgarh, in her Republic Day address at the Police Parade grounds in Raipur, Governor Anusuiya Uikey said Naxal violence and other crimes have declined in the state due to vigilant police force and several initiatives in justice delivery.

In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Kamal Nath said connecting people’s hearts is the culture of India as well as the Congress, and those trying to go against it and the Constitution will be dealt with firmly.



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