I-Day celebrated across India, bomb blasts in northeast
Bomb blasts in Assam and Manipur marred an otherwise peaceful Independence Day celebration across India Thursday that also saw Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi take on the prime minister and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah voice unhappiness over the “different treatment” meted to his state.
In Goa, a man chose the occasion to swim across the Mandovi river to demand a halt to mushrooming casinos in the coastal state.
Suspected Bodo militants tried to disrupt the Independence Day celebrations in Assam by triggering a blast in Tengapara of Kokrajhar town, injuring one person. Police recovered another grenade from the same location. A grenade was recovered at Bijni in Chirang district, while four motorcycle-riding youths lobbed a grenade in Chirang, but it did not explode.
In Manipur, a bomb blast marred the celebrations as Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh appealed for peace in the state. No one was injured in the explosion.
In New Delhi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi hoisted the national flag at the party headquarters. Top party leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Rahul Gandhi were present.
The Congress president also distributed sweets among children on the occasion.
Goa resident Sudip Dalvi swam to the banks of the Mandovi that flanks state capital Panaji and is home to five offshore casinos to protest against casino vessels parked midstream in the river.
Narendra Modi attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for omitting the name of Lal Bahadur Shastri while referring to previous prime ministers and for not speaking out strongly against Pakistan’s killing of Indian soldiers.
He also said the prime minister should have said something on corruption.
This fetched a gentle rebuke from Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani, who said that Independence Day was not a day to “criticise one another”.
Omar Abdullah voiced pain at the criticism over the communal violence in Kishtwar and demanded to know why Kashmiris were treated differently.
After taking the salute and hoisting the tricolour at the Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar amid tight security, Abdullah alleged the Kishtwar incident had been “exploited”.
In Hyderabad, slogans of “Jai Telangana” rent the air during the celebrations at Gandhi Bhavan, headquarters of the ruling Congress party.
Andhra Pradesh saw unprecedented security with protests against the proposed division of the state being seen in a few places in the Rayalaseema and Andhra regions.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, in his Independence Day message, complained of his state being ignored by the central government.
In Tripura capital Agartala, heavy rains ended the Independence Day celebrations in just 10 minutes, with Chief Minister Manik Sarkar forced to finish his speech in a record two minutes. The Agartala programme was scheduled to last two-and-a-half hours.
Maharashtra celebrated the day in the shadow of Wednesday’s naval tragedy in which 18 sailors were feared killed after an Indian Navy submarine sank. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan hoisted the tricolour at a function in the Mantralaya.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav expressed hope that the state will regain its prominent position in the country, while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee unfurled the tricolour at the Indira Gandhi Sarani in Kolkata.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, in his first Independence Day address, declared that his government was ready to hold talks with Maoists if they gave up violence.
Reports of Independence Day celebrations came from other states, including Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh.
At the Attari-Wagah border, the Border Security Force (BSF) in Punjab offered sweets and fruits to Pakistan Rangers and both sides greeted each other.
–Indo-Asian News Service