Amid tight security arrangements, the 71st Republic Day was celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety across the Jammu region on Sunday with Lt Governor G C Murmu unfurling the national flag at the main function in Jammu.
This was the first Republic Day after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was withdrawn on August 5 last year and the erstwhile State was divided into two Union Territories.
Mr. Murmu unfurled the tricolour at the jam-packed Maulana Azad Stadium in the heart of the city, inspected the parade and took salute at an impressive march past which was commanded by Colonel Rajesh Kumar Sharma of the 5th battalion of J&K Light Infantry (JAKLI).
Besides JAKLI, the contingents of BSF, CRPF, Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police, Indian Reserve Police, Disaster Response Force, Jammu and Kashmir Fire and emergency services, ex-servicemen, NCC girls and boys and Bharat scouts took part in the march past.
He also addressed the function, witnessing cultural and sports programmes by young boys and girls, and scintillating performance by local police’s daredevils’ motorcycle stunt team.
An IAF chopper showered flower petals at the start of the function, which attracted huge applause, while three helicopters flew overhead at regular intervals during the event.
With three former Chief Ministers — National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti — still under detention in Srinagar, the only prominent face among the politicians at the official function was Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina.
“This Republic Day is historic for the people of Jammu and Kashmir because the dream of our martyrs for ‘Ek Nishan, Ek Vidhan and Pradhan’ (one Constitution, one flag and one sovereign head) became a reality. Only the national flag fluttered this time,” Mr. Raina told reporters at the end of the function.
The abrogation of Article 370 completed the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ mission, he said, adding that it is the day to take a pledge to make the country a world power.
However, he refused to comment on the absence of the former chief ministers who are under detention since August 5 last year.
Before attending the official function, the Lt Governor went to the Balidan Stambh earlier in the day and paid tribute to the brave security personnel who laid down their lives in the line of duty to the country.
The function at the Balidan Stambh in the heart of the city was organised by the Army as part of the Republic Day celebrations.
The roads in the city were sealed by police and paramilitary forces, and only vehicles with special passes were allowed to move freely, leading to boycott of the main official function by a group of scribes who alleged harassment on the name of security.
Patriotic fervour was visible across the city as local residents, including shopkeepers, were seen hoisting flags in their localities, while groups of enthusiastic youths, carrying tricolour, went around on their motorcycles and raised slogans in praise of the country.
Almost all political parties, including the Congress, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), BJP and National Panthers Party, unfurled the national flag in and outside their party headquarters to mark the occasion.