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Let’s pay homage to martyrs : NE India celebrates R-Day defying militant’s threat
Nava Thakuria Senior Journalist
Let’s pay homage to martyrs : NE India celebrates R-Day defying militant’s threat
PHOTO : Republic Day celebrations at Guwahati by Assam Journalists Union. Pic courtsey Mr Nava Thakuria

Whenever we approach the national festivals like Republic Day and Independence Day, some separatist elements try to dictate the people of northeast India to avoid the celebrations. But their dominations
have slowly evaporated as more and more patriotic citizens of the insurgency stricken region start pouring in the celebrations where the national flags are hoisted with the patriotic fervor.

The  66th R-Day functions also attracted the residents of the land-locked region  to join in the celebrations though they carried the persistent militants’ threats over the celebrations. 

Defying the diktat of some separatist militants, they thronged to the government sponsored and community celebrations on the occasion and paid homage to the martyrs of India’s freedom struggles.

Over the years, it has become almost a reflex action for various banned militant outfits of the region, to call for boycott of the R-Day and I-Day programmes, protesting against the ‘colonial Indian government’ allegedly exploiting the resources of the region. 

This year too was no different, but the people responded to the boycott call with near total indifference.

The auspicious day began with at least six blasts in Manipur and Assam, but the patriotic citizens ignored the caveats, issued by few banned armed outfits of the land-locked region, and joined the nation to hoist the Tricolour that symbolizes the supreme sacrifices of all the known and unknown martyrs of India’s independence movement.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who unfurled the national flag in absence of Governor PB Acharya (also in-charge of Nagaland and Tripura) in Guwahati, asked the armed militants to shun the path of violence and join in the peace talks. The veteran Congress leaders however warned that the government would never tolerate the unlawful activities engineered by the revolutionary turned terrorist outfits.

Announcing various welfare schemes for the benefit of needy families of Assam, Gogoi also declared about a new scheme ensuring free medical treatment to the below poverty line families. He also promised of new initiatives for working on the sanitation programmes.

Governor  Acharya, in a message on the propitious occasion, emphasized on the protection  of one-horned rhinos in various forest reserves of the country. Mentioning about the pre-historic animal, which is Assam’s State symbol, the Governor insisted on the collective responsibility for the preservation of all wildlife in the bio-diversity hotspot region.

Unfurling the Tricolor in Kohima, Governor  Acharya also highlighted the necessity of maintaining peace in the region, which is surrounded by many foreign countries state. Talking about the ongoing peace talks between militants and the government, the Governor expected an amicable settlement of the issue of insurgency.

Compare to other States in the region, Manipur witnessed the mixed response of the boycott call and general strike by the banned armed outfits. But R-Day celebrations were also reported from various parts of the State, where the chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh hoisted the national flag in Imphal. Ibobi Singh too reiterated that that violence would bring nothing good for the people but endless suffering and miseries.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar also pointed out that terrorism must be curbed for the development of the nation. Hoisting the Tricolour in Agartala, Sarkar also cautioned that militants taking shelter in foreign soil (read Bangladesh) would however try to destabilize the region till their resources are not curbed.

Attending the R-Day function in Tura, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma declared few welfare schemes for the development of the hilly State. Sangma also launched the Destination Meghalaya plan with emphasis on education, healthcare and harnessing renewable energy for each and every family of the State.

Mizoram Governor Aziz Qureshi hoisted the national flag in Aizawl and disclosed the commitment of the State government to root out corruption from all sectors. The Governor emphasized on promoting trade relationship with Burma (Myanmar), which adjacent to the Southeast Asian nation.

Sikkim Governor Shreeniwas Patil unfurled the Tricolour in Gangtok and Arunachal Pradesh Governor Nirbhoy Sharma hoisted the national flag in Itanagar, where both the Governors urged the people to pursue democratic values & principles rising above selfish interests and also join hands in the prosperity of the region.

The journalists and conscious citizens of the pre-historic city of Guwahati, as they did earlier years, assembled in Guwahati Press Club to hoist the national flag. Hoisting the Tricolour, senior journalist Pramod Kalita called upon one and all Indians to remember and pay respect to the spirit & sacrifices of numerous freedom fighters.

Kalita pointed out that India, unlike many of its neighbouring countries, has maintained the spirit of democracy since the days of Independence in 1947. He however cautioned that every Indian must be cautious against anti-national elements and also some veiled entities pretending to be progressive, secular and patriotic.

Earlier, senior journalists Rupam Barua  described how a section of journalists took the challenge to defy the diktat of separatist militants in 1998 and hoisted the national flag in the press club and continued the spirit to observe both the Republic and Independence Days. The participants then took out a procession chanting patriotic slogans.

[ Mr. Nava Thakuria is a Senior Journalist, Environment Journalist based in Guwahati, writes on various issues to Media across Asia, Secretary of JFA (Journalists’ Forum of Assam), Secretary Guwahati Press Club) ]

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