Celebrations marked by unfurling of tricolour, colourful parades and other events in the state capitals passed off peacefully

New Delhi : Patriotic fervour swept the nation on Saturday as it celebrated its 69th Independence Day, with chief ministers announcing development initiatives, flagging the challenges ahead and pledging to take their states forward on the path of peace and progress.

The celebrations marked by unfurling of tricolour, colourful parades and other events in the state capitals passed off peacefully with authorities making elaborate security arrangements to ward off any terror attacks while people ignored boycott calls by Maoists.

Demands for special status to give impetus to development, steps to address the plight of farmers in distress, tackling insurgency, including the peace pact with NSCN(IM), terrorism and Left Wing Extremism were among the key issues raised by leaders.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pitched for “synergy” between the Centre and the city government, saying a cooperative approach was key for development while insisting that “differences” are healthy in a democracy.  In a 40-minute-long speech, Kejriwal ran through the AAP government’s “unprecedented” achievements in its first six months, mainly in social sectors and in curbing corruption.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, in his Independence Day address at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar, said the state had rejected the two-nation theory propounded by Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He said Jammu and Kashmir should “get the (special) status and identity within the Constitution of the country” on which the state and the leadership of that time decided to join hands with India.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal heaped praise on police personnel and the Home Guards for their bravery during last month’s terror attack in Dinanagar town in Gurdaspur district.

In poll-bound Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar underscored the demand for special category status to the state. “Bihar will definitely develop. It will develop due to the hard work of its people. It will not develop due to anybody’s blessings or mercy. If you (Centre) want to give anything, give special category status. Providing things in bits and pieces will not be of any help,” Kumar said speaking at historic Gandhi Maidan after hoisting the Tricolour. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called upon people to work unitedly for the cause of the nation. “Let us think with unity, speak with unity and work with unity…. This historic moment of our freedom fills our heart with joy, honour and glory. We are proud of our country. We are proud of our Independence,” she said on Facebook. The Chief Minister unfurled the tricolour on Red Road and received a guard of honour. Cultural programmes were performed by school children and artistes.

Glowing tributes were paid by leaders to freedom fighters and also former President A P J Abdul Kalam, who died on July 27.

Kerala  Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who declared Kerala as the ‘complete digital state’, announced a new youth programme in memory of the former President to enable the youth translate their innovative ideas into successful business ventures.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa gave away the first Dr A P J Abdul Kalam award to ISRO woman scientist N Valarmathi. It comprises an eight gram gold medal, Rs five lakh cheque and a citation. The CM had instituted the award in Kalam’s name after the former President’s demise last month. In Bihar, a special tableau highlighting Kalam’s bond with the state and his contribution to its development was on display at the state function.

Puducherry Chief Minister N Rangasamy said the Rs 5.5 crore Puducherry Science Centre and Planetarium in Lawspet would be named after Kalam.

Paying tribute to Kalam, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje pledged to wash the “blot” on the state of being backward.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav too remembered Kalam and said that the journey of development was incomplete unless basic amenities were provided to all sections of the society.

Unfurling the national flag at Panchkula, Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki paid homage to Kalam and recalled his contribution to the nation. It was clear that the issue of farmers in distress was weighing heavily on the minds of the leaders.

In Punjab,  Badal appealed to the Prime Minister to help bail out the farmers of Punjab who have been facing hardship.

KARNATAKA, while expressing “pain” over rising incidents of farmer suicides, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urged the Centre to help the state address the issues faced by the farming community. “These days our farmers are in distress. The continuance of farmers’ suicides has subdued my spirit to enjoy Independence Day celebrations. That suicides are occurring despite government’s sincere efforts pains me,” he said in his Independence Day speech largely focused on farmers’ issues.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who vowed to transform Maharashtra into a “super industrial state” within next few years, stressed that the government was focusing to improve lives of distressed farmers.

 “In the last few years, climatic conditions that have prevailed in the state have caused distress among farmers. But I wish to tell every farmer that we stand strongly with them in their time of adversity,” he said after unfurling the tricolour at the Mantralaya in Mumbai. He promised that every farmer will have electricity by 2016.

Outrage as flag unfurled upside-down in Punjab

Amritsar  : In a faux pas, Punjab Cabinet Minister Bikram Singh Majitiha on Saturday unfurled the national flag which was upside down during an Independence Day function here and it was only corrected as the event was about the conclude.

Two police personnel responsible for the flag hoisting arrangement were suspended and a magisterial inquiry ordered into the incident as the red-faced officials claimed that flag was in the right position till early morning today and it would be probed if there was a “conspiracy”.

Presiding over Independence Day ceremony at Guru Nanak Auditorium, Majithia, who is the state revenue minister, unfurled the national flag. The minister along with Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagat and Commissioner Amritsar Police Jatinder Singh Aulakh saluted the national flag which was upside down.

The mistake was not corrected even when Majithia delivered his speech and it was hoisted in the right position only when function was about to conclude. Asked about the goof-up, Majithia, who is the brother of Union minister Harsimrat Badal and brother-in-law of Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, told reporters that it is the district administration which should answer how it has happened.

Later, officials said two police officials responsible for the flag hoisting arrangement have been suspended while suitable action against Superintendent of Police (Headquarter) was recommended to the state government in this regard.

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Indians should be proud of  ‘unity in diversity’: Bhagwat

Surat: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Saturday said the people of India should take pride in the country’s unity in diversity and strive towards increasing the glory of the nation as well as humanity.

Bhagwat was speaking after unfurling the National Flag at a  function organised by an NGO Dr Ambedkar Vanvasi Kalyan Trust at Rander area of the city. Explaining the significance of the tricolour, Bhagwat said, “There are three colours in our national flag and also there is a dharma chakra in between. This dharma chakra tells us that we all should live for the enforcement of religion in our country and that we have to bring back the lost religion in the world.” “The saffron colour is positioned at the top of the flag. It is the colour of sacrifice, credibility and knowledge Our kings and saints had made great sacrifices for others… the colour of that sacrifice was saffron. The clothes they wore were saffron. At the time of daybreak, this saffron colour (of the sun) clears the darkness of night. It is the colour of knowledge,” he said.

 While white symbolises piety and purity of life, green is the colour of prosperity in the world, he said. “People connect and progress through religion. Religion is not only about worshipping, it is just a small part of it. In this religion of humanity, which is also called the Hindu religion, people from various sects and community live. “Taking pride in this diversity, people should live unitedly and try to increase the glory of the nation, the world as well as humanity. This is the message the dharma chakra gives,” he added.

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BSF celebrates I-Day,  but no sweets for Pak

Attari (Punjab): The Border Security Force (BSF) on Saturday celebrated Independence Day here but there was no ceremonial exchange of sweets with the Pakistani Rangers.

BSF DIG Mohd M F Farooqi took part in an event organised on the occasion of 69th Independence Day at Attari where the tricolour was hoisted. Functions were held by the BSF at various border out

posts along Punjab’s 553-km long International Border withPakistan. No exchange of sweets took place between the BSF and the

Pakistani Rangers at the Attari-Wagah joint check post, a BSF

officer said, reports PTI. BSF IG, Anil Paliwal had announced earlier that the BSF will neither be offering nor accepting sweets from its counterpart this year. His announcement came in the wake of two recent terror attacks in Dinanagar town in Gurdaspur, Punjab and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir. As per past practice, each year, the BSF has been accepting sweets from Pakistan on August 14, the neighbouring country’s Independence Day and offering sweets to them on India’s Independence Day on August 15.

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