Violence Rocks J&K, Manipur, Assam as Nation Celebrates I-Day
As the nation soaked in patriotic fervour celebrated its 70th Independence Day today, Jammu and Kashmir was rattled by fresh militant violence which claimed three lives, including that of a CRPF officer, and explosions shattered the brittle calm in Assam and Manipur.
The Kashmir Valley, in the grip of violence for nearly 40 days now, saw militants mount a morning assault on security forces in downtown Srinagar resulting in the death of the Commanding officer of CRPF's 49th Battalion Pramod Kumar and two militants.
Kumar, thrice decorated with CRPF's Director General's commendation, had also served in the Special Protection Group for three years.
Two blasts rocked Manipur capital Imphal an hour before the official Independence Day celebrations were to start, but no casualties were reported. Several militant organisations have called for a boycott of Independence Day celebrations in the state, often rocked by insurgent violence.
A series of five bomb explosions by suspected ULFA-Independent militants rocked upper Assam's Charaido and Tinsukia districts this morning but there were no casualties.
With the Kashmir Valley caught in a welter of violence since the July 8 killing of militant commander Burhan Wani, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made an emotional appeal to the agitating youths not to be misled by vested interests who want to keep the valley burning and maintained that dialogue was the only way forward to resolve issues.
In her maiden Independence Day address as Chief Minister, Mehbooba cautioned that Kashmir should not be allowed to become another Syria or Afghanistan where there is instability and absence of safety of life and urged the people to give her time so that she could work on the plans and programmes she had charted for peace and progress of the state.
She blamed the successive central government, starting from the one led by Jawaharlal Nehru, for the problems of Kashmir and hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the issues, completing the process started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Mehbooba faced a deeply embarrassing moment when the national tricolour fell off the post when she attempted to hoist it at Bakshi stadium. She pulled the string attached to the post only to see the tricolour fall from the post and land on the ground.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, locked in a bitter battle with the Centre over primacy in the National Capital Territory, made a pitch for full statehood.
In his Independence Day address at Chhatrasal Stadium, Kejriwal attacked the Modi government for eroding the elected government's power through a system which was akin to that employed in the national capital when it was governed by the colonial 'Government of India Act, 1935'.
He claimed the citizens of Delhi were being made to feel that the value of their votes were less as compared to other states where electors have the "right to choose governments with powers".
The Modi government also came under attack by ally Andhra Pradhesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who accused the Centre of having "failed to honour the promises" made to the state ahead of its bifurcation and vowed to not rest until he has wrested the "last paisa" due to the state.
"They (Central government) are not releasing funds to bridge our revenue deficit (caused by the state bifurcation). They are not releasing funds for the Polavaram irrigation project nor are they trying to resolve the contentious issues between the two states (AP and Telangana)," Naidu said in his Independence Day speech.
Elsewhere in the country, Chief Ministers announced a raft of development schemes and called for peace and harmony in the society.
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