The residents of northeast India, whom the mainstream Indian agencies often misunderstand as sympathizers to various separatist militant outfits, joined in the 67th Republic Day (of India) celebrations one and all to pay their heartfelt tributes to the martyrs.
For the first time in recent decades, the auspicious day on 26 January 2016 was observed without a single incident of violence across the region, surrounded by Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet (China), Burma and Bangladesh.
The people of trouble-torn States of Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland with Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Tripura and Sikkim participated in both the government and community celebrations on R-Day to hoist the national flag with great fervour. They not only did they salute the martyrs, who made supreme sacrifices for the motherland, but also rejected the militants’ yearly rhetoric to boycott the R-Day and Independence Day in the alienated region.
The northeastern militants under various banners namely United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia, co-ordination committee of Manipur based militant outfits, Garo National Liberation Army, Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council etc called for a total shutdown in the region on R-Day this time too raising voices against the Union government in New Delhi.
A joint statement issued the rebels, who are waging a war against the Indian Union government in New Delhi for various demands ranging from sovereignty to self-rule, asserted that there is no reason for Western South East Asia to celebrate India’s R-Day. They also argued that the citizens of the region should introspect and analyze Indian policy here and initiate to dislodge Indian occupation from the alienated region.
President of India Pranab Mukherjee, while hoisting the national flag in New Delhi on the revered day in presence of distinguished foreign guest French President Francois Hollande, emphasized on various national issues including the peace which is the foundation of civilization.
“Peace is the primary objective of a rational consciousness as well as our moral universe. It is the foundation of civilization and a necessity for economic progress. And yet, we have never been able to answer a simple question: why does peace remain so elusive?” said President Mukherjee.
The President also highlighted that India today is a rising power, a country fast emerging as a global leader in science, technology, innovation and start-ups, and whose economic success is the envy to the world. He also added that love for one’s motherland is the basis of all progress.
Meanwhile, the respective Governors as well as chief ministers of northeast India unfurled the tri-colour in the capital cities in presence of dignitaries and general audience. Meghalaya Governor V Shanmuganathan, while unfurling the tricolour at Polo Ground in Shillong, expressed concerns about the ongoing internal security problems in Garo hills locality. The Governor, even after appealing the local militants to come forward for peace talks, reiterated that the security agencies would deal with the situation and neutralize militant activities.
Manipur chief minister O Ibobi Singh hoisted the national flag at the historic Kangla Fort in Imphal. He appreciated the people for joining the celebrations across the State despite militants’ boycott call and urged everyone to make Manipur a peaceful and prosperous State in the coming days. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi also expressed his gratitude to the people for spontaneously celebrating the venerated day.
“The spontaneous response of all sections of the people to celebrate the 67th R-Day defying the boycott call given by the proscribed organisations is an indication that the people want peace and development and not rebellion,” said Gogoi while hoisting the tri-colour in Guwahati.
He also added that the people’s participation on R-Day functions waiving the tricolour in hands indicated that the insurgents groups were losing popular support from the common people. Gogoi however asked the fugitive militant leader Paresh Barua, who leads the anti-talk faction of United Liberation Front of Asom, to shun the path of violence and join in the mainstream for the sake of Assam’s overall
Nagaland Governor PB Acharya, while unfurling the tri-colour in Kohima, urged all Naga underground groups to leave the path of violence. Mizoram Governor Lt. Gen (Rtd) Nirbhay Sharma, while unfurling the flag in Aizawl, emphasized on the connectivity in all dimensions, which is essential for economic growth and development.
The Governor predicted that the Kaladan multi-modal project, once it is completed, would open up great opportunities for the international trades with various ASEAN countries. Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy unfurled the tricolor in Agartala and expressed hope that India-Bangladesh relations would further improve as bus services between the two countries had encouraged the people for more trade and commerce.
Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prashad Rajkhowa, while hoisting the flag in Itanagar, called upon all government officers and employees to work with full commitment for an efficient, people-friendly, corruption-free administration in hilly State.
“We have to ensure smooth, prompt, hassle-free delivery of public services. We have to provide corruption-free administration and all those involved in corrupt practices and other unlawful activities must be dealt in with firm hands,” said Governor Rajkhowa.
Along with the nation, the scribes and patriotic citizens celebrated the R-Day at Guwahati Press Club. Editor-journalist Girindra Kumar Karji hoisted the national flag in the morning,following which the participants took out a procession on the streets.
Acclaimed senior journalist DN Bezbarua and social worker Ajay Dutta led the procession where many children also took part waving the tri-colour. Others who joined in the mission included Rupam Barua, Ranen Kumar Goswami, Mukul Kalita, Pramod Kalita, Jagadindra Raychoudhury, Pankaj Duara, Dayanath Singh, Pulin Kalita, Kailash Sarma, Pradip Thakuria, Soumyadeep Dutta, Mrinal Ali Hazarika, Ujjal Saikia, Samir Sandilya, Nayan Bhuyan, Hiren Kalita, Bikash Singh, Ravi Ajitacharya, Sabita Lahkar, Sumana Dutta, Purabi Barua, Kuntala Chakrabarty, Alaka Goswami, Akhyamala Bora, Anjali Deka, Mamata Mishra, Tarali Chakraborty etc.
Meanwhile, four distinguished personalities from the region were declared as Padma award winners on the occasion of 67th R-Day. Eminent Manipuri theatre personality Heisnam Kanhailal was announced as a recipient of Padma Bhushan in art-theatre category, where as noted Assamese journalist DN Bezbarua was selected for Padma Shri. Similarly Ajay Dutta (Assam), Prahlad Tasa (Assam), Kameshwaram Brahma (Assam), Tokheho Sema (Nagaland) and Veena Tandon (Meghalaya) were also nominated for the adored civilian award.
Earlier the Journalists’ Forum Assam as usual ridiculed the militants’ R-Day boycott call and appealed to each & every patriotic resident of the region to hoist the national flag on the auspicious day and pay homage to the martyrs. The forum argued that if the citizens do not recognize the immense sacrifice made by millions of known and unknown freedom fighters to make India an independent nation, they ‘would only turn themselves as the most ungrateful nationals on the planet’.