India celebrates 72nd Republic Day amid Covid pandemic, farmers' protests

21 women on five motorcycles make a human pyramid | PTI

The 72nd Republic Day was celebrated across states and Union Territories on Tuesday under the shadow of COVID-19 and farmers' protests against new agri laws.

In most states, celebrations were restricted to unfurling of the national flag and chief ministers and governors addressing the people, while in the national capital, protesters broke through barriers, clashed with police and hoisted a religious flag from the rampart of Red Fort.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal greeted people on the 72nd Republic Day and saluted the corona warriors.

On the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reiterated his appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for accepting the farmers' demands, saying the new farm laws are "completely wrong".

His Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar in his Republic Day address said while one has the freedom to agitate, but not to spread anarchy.

After hoisting the tricolour at a function in Panchkula, Khattar said the Constitution talks about rights, but these rights do not give us the freedom to do anything.

In the wake of events which unfolded in neighbouring Delhi, authorities in Haryana sounded a high alert in the state and said anyone taking law into one's hands will be dealt with strictly

Amid tight security arrangements, Republic Day celebrations were held at all district headquarters of Rajasthan with compliance of COVID19-related guidelines like social distancing and wearing face masks.

Continuing his attack against the Centre over the new farm laws, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said it has never happened in the history of the country that the farmers had to protest so long to get their demands fulfilled.

Addressing people on the 72nd Republic Day, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said "our public life" gives inspiration for one dharma --'Rasthra Dharma' and it should be above all for everyone.

"We do not only have a personal life but a public life also. It gives us inspiration for one Dharma, which is Rastra Dharma. It should be above all for everyone. We all should work in a devoted way," the chief minister said.

"We are celebrating 72nd Republic Day and paying respect to our Constitution, which not only gives us fundamental rights but also also reminds us about our duties as a citizen of the country," he said.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the Republic Day was celebrated with traditional fervour with Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha unfurling the national flag at an event in Jammu.

Braving chilly weather conditions, contingents of police and other security forces took part in a parade in Kashmir.

Stringent security arrangements were in place to ensure that the celebrations passed off peacefully, officials said.

Himachal Pradesh Governor Bandaru Dattatreya unfurled the national flag and took the salute of a march past at the state-level Republic Day function held at the historic Ridge.

A colourful cultural programme was also presented on the day. Tableaux highlighting various development activities of different departments also formed a part of the Republic Day celebration.

The Republic Day celebrations in West Bengal were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was no dearth of enthusiasm and energy as Kolkata witnessed a colourful parade and procession with decorated tableaux at Red Road.

No spectators were allowed at the customary programme, which was truncated to around 30 minutes, and seating arrangements were made following COVID-19 protocols, a senior official said.

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar hoisted the tricolour and presided over the march past of the armed forces and the state police at Red Road in the heart of the city.

While unfurling the tricolour, Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi said the state government has provided jobs to over 80,000 unemployed youths in the last four-and-half years.

The governor said the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government has been taking exemplary measures for fulfilling the promise of providing a corruption-free state.

In other northeast states also, Republic Day celebrations were held in a subdued manner in the wake of the pandemic with chief ministers hailing the frontline workers and urging people to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Addressing a programme in Mumbai to mark the 72nd Republic Day, Maharshtra Governor

Bhagat Singh Koshyari said the state faced a financial blow during the COVID-19 crisis, but the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government took different measures to come out of the situation.

Expressing solidarity with the farmers agitating in the national capital, a tractor march was organised in Maharashtra's Aurangabad and similar processions were held in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Many protesters, who took out motorcycle rallies, carried the national flag and also placards with slogans condemning the farm laws in many parts of Tamil Nadu although police had declined permission for the procession.

The ruling CPI(M) in Kerala also organised farmers' parades at several places in the state.

Leading Republic Day celebrations in Kerala, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan urged the people of the state to utilise the opportunity for vaccination against coronavirus and continue the COVID-appropriate behaviour with utmost care.

In Karnataka, Governor Vajubhai Vala commended the efforts of the state government in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and in using technology to monitor those who were quarantined.

Due to the prevailing pandemic, the event was restricted to 45 minutes with a march past by 21 contingents of 750 policemen.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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