Patriotic fervour marks R-Day across country
Amid unfurling of the Tricolour and colourful parades, Republic Day was celebrated across the country peacefully on Saturday with a boycott call by Naxal and northeastern militant outfits failing to evoke positive response.
Calls to extremists to shun the gun and come forward for talks, concerns about development and ensuring dignity and security of women and children were some of the issues underscored by governors, chief ministers and other leaders during the festivities marked with patriotic fervour which honour the day the Indian Constitution came into force in 1950.
With insurgents in Manipur exploding three powerful bombs on Friday, including one at the first Manipur Rifles ground in Imphal where the Republic Day function is held, there was heavy security in place on Saturday as Governor Gurbachan Jagat took the salute from various contingents at the march past.
A boycott call by all major insurgent organisations of the North-East, including TLFA, NDFB, United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) did not evoke response and the states saw large public gatherings at official functions.
Security personnel had fanned out across the states, with ground-to-air security apparatus in place to thwart any militant attack.
Plastic explosive were seized from three youths who were targeting a power station in Assam’s Dhemaji district.
Assam Governor J B Patnaik, who unfurled the Tricolour and addressed the people in Guwahati, said the government’s counter insurgency operations have yielded positive results and steps are being taken to bring about overall socio-economic development in the state.
Fifty-six villages in Saranda forest, Asia’s largest sal forest once a stronghold of the Maoists, was liberated by security forces.
Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt said the state was witnessing benefits of development-oriented policies and efforts to deal with Naxalism.
Sacrifices of the security forces and common people who lost their lives in Naxal violence will not go in vain, the Governor said as people ignored a boycott call by the red rebels who had put up posters at some places opposing the celebrations.
Chief Minister Raman Singh hoisted the Tricolour at Jagdalpur district headquarters amid tight security.
Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil who addressed a function in Naxal-hit Gadchiroli said Naxal problem has to be countered with development.
The looming water crisis in many parts of Maharashtra found prominence in the governor K Sankaranarayanan’s message at a function in Mumbai.
Goa Governor B V Wanchoo expressed concern over “sick and neurotic minds” perpetrating heinous crimes on innocent women and children in some parts of the country, including the state.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda asked people to eradicate social evils like female foeticide and graft and lay emphasis on empowerment of women to further accelerate the pace of development.
Issues of development, welfare schemes and maintenance of peace and public order as pre-requisite for progress were highlighted by leaders in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu among others.
Addressing celebrations at the historic Barabati stadium at Cuttack, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced Re 1 per kg rice scheme for the poor and steps to set up fast track courts for offences against women.
“My dream is to make Odisha a hunger-free state. Our government will implement the scheme from its own resources,” Patnaik said.
In Gujarat, the state function was this time held at Ahwa village in the tribal-dominated Dang district where Governor Kamla hoisted the tricolour.
“A small gram Panchayat like Ahwa hosting the state-level celebrations of Republic Day...it is a historic feat for the country and highlights people’s strength. I congratulate them,” Modi said after the function.
Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil and Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia unfurled the Tricolour at Ropar and Faridabad respectively, while Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Singh Hooda took salute at Amritsar and
Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva unfurled the national flag at Sawai Man Singh stadium in Jaipur.
After a gap of about two decades, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh on Saturday unfurled the national tri-colour on Republic Day at Saranda, which was liberated from Maoists last year.
Hoisting the national flag on the Digha Primary School premises Ramesh regretted the tardy pace of the Saranda Development plan.
Referring to the prevailing political situation in Jharkhand, he said President’s Rule was not an alternative to a popular elected government, which was needed to achieve rapid growth.
The union minister also inaugurated a PCC road constructed under the Integrated Development plan and handed over a cheque for Rs 10 lakh for completion of Panchayat Bhavan.