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R-Day celebrated in East, CAA protests in Bengal

R-Day celebrated in East, CAA protests in Bengal

Guwahati/Kolkata/Patna: The 71st Republic Day was celebrated with pomp and pageantry across the eastern region on Sunday, even as four serial explosions rocked Assam early in the day, and sparse protests over the new citizenship law were reported from parts of the state and neighbouring West Bengal.

Barring Meghalaya, where Tathagata Roy is on leave since December, governors in their respective states, unfurled the Tricolour and presided over the ceremonial parade, amid heightened security.

In Assam, four power explosions -- three in Dibrugarh and one in Charaideo districts -- shook Upper Assam, with police sources suspecting it to be a handiwork of ULFA (Independent) militants, who had called for a boycott of Republic Day celebrations.

All four blasts occurred in a span of 10 minutes -- between 8.15 and 8.25 am, a police officer said, adding no casualty had been reported, as Republic Day being a holiday, people were mostly indoors.

Later in the day, Governor Jagdish Mukhi said the Assam government was committed to protect the political, cultural and linguistic rights of indigenous people and a committee, headed by retired Gauhati High Court judge Biplab Sharma, would soon submit a report in this regard. Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and BJP MLA Angoorlata Deka were shown black flags by anti-CAA protesters at separate locations in the state, when they were on their way to attend functions.

In West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar led the celebrations, as he hoisted the national flag and inspected the parade by armed forces and police personnel. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who attended the programme along with cabinet colleagues, greeted the governor at the conclusion of the programme.

Members of an interfaith group came out on the streets in state capital Kolkata and formed human chains in various parts of the city, as a mark of protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. In Jharkhand, Governor Droupadi Murmu insisted that unemployment was a burning issue and the government would take initiative to fill vacancies at panchayat offices and state departments.

At a separate function, Chief Minister Hemant Soren called upon people to work for the welfare of the state, rising above their cultural and religious identities.

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