R-Day celebrated in East; bomb blasts in Assam, CAA protests
Guwahati/Kolkata/Patna: The 71st Republic Day was celebrated with pomp and pageantry across the eastern region on Sunday, even as four serial explosions rocked Assam early in the day, and sparse protests over the new citizenship law were reported from parts of the state and neighbouring West Bengal.
Barring Meghalaya, where Tathagata Roy is on leave since December, governors in their respective states, unfurled the Tricolour and presided over the ceremonial parade, amid heightened security.
In Assam, four power explosions — three in Dibrugarh and one in Charaideo districts — shook Upper Assam, with police sources suspecting it to be a handiwork of ULFA (Independent) militants, who had called for a boycott of Republic Day celebrations.
All four blasts occurred in a span of 10 minutes — between 8.15 and 8.25 am, a police officer said, adding no casualty had been reported, as Republic Day being a holiday, people were mostly indoors.
Later in the day, Governor Jagdish Mukhi said the Assam government was committed to protect the political, cultural and linguistic rights of indigenous people and a committee, headed by retired Gauhati High Court judge Biplab Sharma, would soon submit a report in this regard.
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.
In West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar led the celebrations, as he hoisted the national flag and inspected the parade by armed forces and police personnel.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who attended the programme along with cabinet colleagues, greeted the governor at the conclusion of the programme.
Members of an interfaith group came out on the streets in state capital Kolkata and formed human chains in various parts of the city, as a mark of protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
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 Nitish Kumar government for its efforts to generate awareness on the issue.
He also spoke about the steps being taken by the government to ensure welfare of the weaker sections of the society, including Dalits and minorities.
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.
Cultural diversity was on display at Republic Day celebrations in Nagaland, where Governor and Centre’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks, R N Ravi, on Saturday asserted that “differences should be resolved through peaceful dialogue, and not under the shadow of guns”.
State 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.”
In a departure from tradition, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma unfurled the Tricolour in Shillong and shared with people his government vision for the state’s development in the next 10 years.
Contending that the state’s core strength lay in the fact that 75 per cent of its three-million population were aged below 34 years, Sangma said his government was taking all measures to “impart quality education and skill-based training” to the youth.
In Arunachal Pradesh, Governor B D 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, too, 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.