Tight Security, Welfare Schemes Mark R-Day in India
Amid unfurling of the tricolour and colourful parades, the Republic Day was today celebrated across the country peacefully with a boycott call by Naxal and northeastern militant outfits failing to evoke 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 Indian Constitution came into force in 1950.
In Jammu and Kashmir, Governor N N Vohra hoisted the tricolour at Maulana Azad Stadium in Jammu amid tight security.
He said in the past two years there has been a decline in terrorist violence and observed that if there are no adverse developments along the frontiers in the coming time, people can look forward to enjoying the fruits of peace
He, however, cautioned that security forces cannot think of lowering guard under any circumstances till such time as sustained calm prevails on the north western frontiers in the state, a reference to the recent tension along the Line of Control following ceasefire violations and beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistani troops.
Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar, who presided the main Republic Day function in Kashmir, said "Gun has only brought destruction to this place (Kashmir). No issue can be solved by guns". He said those who have differing views should come to the dialogue table.
"We may not agree with their views but the essence of democracy is in resolving issues through dialogue.It is the only way to settle issues," the minister said.
With insurgents in Manipur exploding three powerful bombs yesterday, including one at the first Manipur Rifles ground in Imphal where the Republic Day function is held, there was heavy security in place today 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.
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 were being taken to bring about overall socio-economic development in the state.
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.
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, Tamil Nadu among others.
Addressing celebrations at the historic Barabati stadium at Cuttack, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced Rs one per kg rice scheme for the poor and steps to set up fast track courts for offences against women.
The looming water crisis in many parts of Maharashtra found prominence in the Governor K Sankaranarayanan's message at a function in Mumbai.
In Gujarat, the state function was this time held at Ahwa village in the tribal-dominated Dang district where Governor Dr Kamla hoisted the tricolour.
"A small gram Panchayat like Ahwa hosting the state-level celebrations of 64th 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 tri-colour at Ropar and Faridabad respectively, while Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Singh Hooda took salute at Amritsar and Rewari respectively.
Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva unfurled the national flag at the Republic Day function in Sawai Man Singh stadium in Jaipur.
In Karnataka, Governor H R Bhardwaj emphaised on protecting secularism which he said was the basis of the country's existence and appealed to Parliament, Assemblies and Local Self Governance bodies to ensure debates touching the problems of the weaker sections of the society and the rural poor. "They deserve to get the justice, social and economic," he said.
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