New Delhi, Jan 26: Pomp, pageantry and patriotic fervour were in the air Sunday as the 65th Republic Day was celebrated across the country with flag hoisting ceremonies, military parades, cultural extravaganzas and pledges to work for a better India.
The celebrations were peaceful barring a minor bomb blast triggered by militants near the residence of Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.
In New Delhi, India’s powerful military punch and rich cultural heritage were showcased at the main Republic Day parade, with chief guest and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe keenly watching the 90-minute event on Rajpath boulevard in the heart of the city.
It was the coldest Republic Day in a decade at 9.9 degrees Celsius, forcing commoners and dignitaries alike to swathe themselves in layers of protective clothing.
For Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it was his 10th and probably last Republic Day parade in office as he has announced that he would step down after the general elections.
The day passed off peacefully in Jammu and Kashmir amid heightened security measures.
Governor N.N. Vohra hoisted the national flag in Jammu while Rural Development Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar did the same in Srinagar. A strike called by separatists, however, affected life in the Kashmir Valley.
India’s commercial capital Mumbai witnessed a dazzling Republic Day celebration, with a colourful parade at a new location — the picturesque Marine Drive.
In Kolkata, West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan unfurled the tricolour and took the salute at a colourful march-past by security forces and students.
The simmering tensions over the Telangana issue did nothing to dampen the Republic Day spirit in Andhra Pradesh. Besides the official functions, all political parties marked the day in their own way.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal used the occasion in Ludhiana to demand a redrafting of the constitution, saying the powers of the states had been eroded over the years by successive central governments.
Also in Punjab, Border Security Force (BSF) officers and troopers offered sweets to the Pakistan Rangers at the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar and at Hussainiwala in Ferozepur district.
In Haryana, the main function was held at Gurgaon, adjoining New Delhi, where Governor Jagannath Pahadia hoisted the national flag.
In Karnataka, Governor H.R. Bharadwaj hoisted the tricolour and inspected an impressive parade in capital Bangalore.
Republic Day was celebrated across Tamil Nadu, with Governor K. Rosaiah presiding over the main event at the Marina beach in Chennai.
Republic Day was celebrated with enthusiasm in Rajasthan. Governor Margaret Alva unfurled the national flag in Jaipur here and witnessed a parade and colourful cultural shows.
In Kerala, Governor Nikhil Kumar said the government was committed to the welfare of the diaspora.
Braving bone-biting cold, people celebrated Republic Day across Himachal Pradesh. The main attraction in Shimla was a 13-member band of reformed prisoners from two jails — in Kanda near Shimla and Nahan.
Bihar Governor D.Y. Patil hoisting the tricolour in Patna, lauding the state government for combating corruption and crime.
After unfurling the national flag at Cuttack, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked people to remain wedded to secular values.
Both in Jharkhand and Orissa, people defied Maoist orders to boycott the Republic Day celebrations.
In Ranchi, Jharkahnd Chief Minister Hemant Soren hoisted the flag.
Six frontline separatist outfits based in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura called for a boycott of the Republic Day celebrations.
But people in Assam — and elsewhere — took part in large numbers in the Republic Day celebrations.
In Shillong, Meghalaya Governor K.K. Paul urged militants to talk to the government. Here too thousands defied militant threats and participated in Republic Day celebrations.