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K'taka celebrates I-Day amid terror threats

india Updated: Aug 15, 2006 17:49 IST
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Terror threats notwithstanding, Karnataka celebrated the nation's 59th Independence Day on Tuesday with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy presiding over a three-hour show that included cultural programmes and acrobatic feats on motorbikes.

The main event held at the Field Marshal Manekshaw parade grounds in the heart of Bangalore, was held with unprecedented security. At 9 am, Kumaraswamy unfurled the national flag under a cloudy day as two helicopters of the Indian Air Force flew over the venue, showering flowers on people.

As the sun played hide-and-seek with rain-laden clouds and strong winds kept the tricolour fluttering, the 3,000-odd crowd, including women and children, joined the Chief Minister in singing the national anthem that reverberated across the grounds through loudspeakers and echoed from a distance.

After inspecting the guard of honour in an open jeep, Kumaraswamy addressed the gathering in Kannada from a flower-decked dais. About 2,000 security personnel were deployed.

About 50,000 houses for BPL (below poverty line) families and 30,000 families dwelling in slums would be built, the Chief Minister said.

"The housing project will be a gift to the poor, including marginal farmers during the golden jubilee celebrations of the state's formation, beginning Nov 1. We will spend Rs 10 billion every year to provide PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in rural areas) in all the villages across the state," he said in his 50-minute speech.

Reiterating his government's commitment to farmers' welfare, he said: "Karnataka is the only state to provide farm loans at the lowest interest rate to ensure that its farmers do not land in debt trap and resort to suicides. The state has been blessed with bountiful rains this year for taking up agricultural activities on a war-footing."

Two police and armed men had been posted atop buildings facing the parade grounds. Hundreds of policemen turned the sprawling grounds into a fortress.

Traffic diversion, ban on parking within a kilometre of the venue and frisking at entry points, kept many away from the function. Mobile phones, handbags, transistors and other electronic gadgets were banned at the ground.

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