Just freedom, no fear

175

Faisal Akhoon

INDEPENDENCE Day holds immense significance in India’s history and is deeply cherished by its citizens. It’s a day of pride, unity, and reflection, celebrated on August 15 with the unfurling of the Tricolour. The day commemorates the much-fought-for freedom of India from the British colonial rule.

Beyond its historical context, Independence Day now symbolises communal harmony and national integration. India’s diversity is celebrated on this day, bridging gaps and promoting a shared identity. Amidst cultural performances, citizens from diverse backgrounds honour the struggles and sacrifices of our freedom fighters.

The shared patriotism during I-Day unites Indians, reinforcing the concept of ‘one India’. This unity is a reminder that the nation’s spirit remains undivided despite geographical boundaries. Educating the youth about the country’s history cultivates responsibility towards preserving democratic values.

In contemporary India, Independence Day signifies more than patriotism – it’s a means for promoting unity, diversity and freedom. By celebrating diversity, embracing shared values, and fostering understanding, the day promotes a stronger, a more united nation. Raising the flag and singing the national anthem calls for a commitment towards a united India.

  • The I-Day joy in J&K

The 77th Independence Day was celebrated across Jammu and Kashmir last Tuesday with numerous functions amidst extensive security arrangements. The theme for this year’s celebration was ‘Nation First, Always First’, an integral part of the broader ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. This year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also introduced the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign, encouraging the public to participate in the flag-hoisting ceremony on Independence Day.

The celebrations in the UT were organised in the summer capital Srinagar and winter capital Jammu. The functions were also held at district and block headquarters, government institutions, and all educational institutions in J&K.

During the celebrations, the national flag was unfurled at all district, sub-district, tehsil headquarters, and panchayats, by the Panchayat Raj Institution (PRI) representatives. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha presided over the main Independence Day function at Bakshi Stadium, while LG’s Advisor R R Bhatnagar presided over the function at M A Stadium in Jammu.

At the district headquarters, District Development Council (DDC) chairpersons were the chief guests. Mayors and DDC chairpersons of the twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu attended the main functions in their respective cities.

For over a week, educational institutions and other various departments organised events, competitions, and activities at district, school, and panchayat levels in tune with the celebration plan of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

  • Ensuring incident-free celebrations

To ensure peaceful celebrations, adequate security arrangements were put in place across J&K. Besides multi-layered security on ground, drones were continuously used for surveillance purposes. Police officials said that these arrangements were put in place to ensure the smooth conduct of functions during the celebrations across J&K.

All the security arrangements had been finalised well in advance, and the areas where the chief guests would address the gatherings had been sanitised. “All high-rise buildings around the main venues of the Independence Day functions in Srinagar and Jammu were occupied by sharpshooters of the Police and the paramilitary CRPF to prevent any untoward incident,” a police officer informed KC. He also mentioned that “there was ground and aerial surveillance as well. Both human and technical means were used to ensure an incident-free Independence Day celebration”.

As per early reports on Monday, commuters travelling on roads and highways in and around Srinagar were being thoroughly frisked and their identity inquired about. In Srinagar, where the main independence function was held, extraordinary security arrangements had been put in place. Similar reports were received from Jammu and other district headquarters.

  • Celebrating freely

Happily, there was no internet shutdown in Kashmir or restrictions in any part of Jammu and Kashmir during I-Day celebrations. There weren’t any restrictions on the movement of people across Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir either, although security forces were deployed in good strength at sensitive places in Kashmir. Since 2021, J&K has enjoyed regular internet services in J&K on Independence Day. Previously, these services would be snapped on Independence Day and Republic Day, as part of the security drill.

  • The function

To mark the 77th Independence Day, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha raised the Tricolour in Srinagar. He observed the parade, saluting an impressive march past. The parade featured contingents from various forces including BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB, JKAP IRP, JKP women contingents, SDRF, Fire and Emergency services, J&K Police, Civil Defence, Forest Protection Force, National Cadet Corps, school students, alongside brass bands of JKP, BSF, and the JKP pipe band.

In the true spirit of patriotism, students and cultural artists presented vibrant cultural items, reminding everyone of the sacrifices of the country’s brave-hearts and rekindling the essence of the Indian freedom movement. Cultural pageantry with themes of national integration showcased our shared commitment to social harmony, with artists portraying the rich heritage of a resurgent J&K.

Energetic performances of Bhand Pather and Bhangra added to the festivities. The Lt Governor awarded cash prizes to outstanding student groups in the cultural segment. Winners of the national anthem singing competition were also honoured at the UT level Independence Day event.

Dignitaries including Justice Pankaj Mithal, chief justice of the High Court of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh; K K Sharma, state election commissioner; judges of the High Court; PRI representatives; Mayor SMC, Chief Secretary, DGP;  former legislators; senior civil, police, and army officers; political and social activists; prominent citizens; and mediapersons attended the event at Bakshi Stadium, Srinagar.

Sofiya, a student, described the event thus: “It was fun, the stadium was fully occupied. There were many performances and parades by school girls and boys and by different departments. We enjoyed the cultural performances like the Kashmiri Rouf, Bandh Pather, and other dance segments depicting Kashmiri culture and traditions. Mostly, we appreciated and enjoyed the gymnastic performance, showcased for the first time.  Also the Kashmiri songs playing in the background added to the thrill and excitement. We also enjoyed the felicitation ceremony wherein cash prizes were given away by the Governor. It was a wonderful experience just being audience to speeches and performances that kept us firmly engaged. We enjoyed it all”.

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