Paying glowing tributes to great martyrs and several unsung heroes who spearheaded several movements to free our motherland from the yoke of foreign imperialism, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal unfurled the tricolour during the state-level function organised on the 67th Independence Day at Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Thursday.
The CM remembered the supreme sacrifices made by Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai and Kartar Singh Sarabha. He said as a humble tribute to these legendary patriots the state government was constructing a world class 'Jang-e-Azaadi' memorial at Kartarpur in Jalandhar, to showcase the enormous contribution of Punjabis in the freedom struggle.
Despite the change in venue from SCD College to Guru Nanak Stadium due to heavy downpour on the eve of Independence Day, a large number of people, including school/college students, from various villages and cities witnessed the impressive show. The chief minister accompanied by director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini and deputy commissioner, Ludhiana, Rahul Tewari inspected the parade led by parade commander DSP Akashdeep Singh Aulakh and took a salute during an impressive march past by 17 contingents of Punjab Police, Punjab home guards, Punjab Armed Police, 3rd NCC Punjab Girls Battalion, 19th NCC Punjab Boys Battalion, Bharat Scouts and Guides besides the Punjab Police Brass band and other school bands.
Students of various schools presented a colourful programme, including Bhangra, Gidda, group dance, PT show and group singing.
Badal called upon people to take a vow to eradicate social evils such as drug addiction, female foeticide, and dowry. He asked people to check environmental degradation to ensure 'Punjab as a clean, green and pollution-free state'.
He, however, lamented that the governments have miserably failed to satiate the expectations of martyrs, as even after 66 years of Independence, basic civic amenities such as potable drinking water, electricity, sewerage, roads and healthcare facilities remained a dream for lakhs of people.
Badal said: "It is high time for us to do soul searching to ascertain as to who actually is at fault."
Referring to the injustice meted out to Punjab by the Centre from day one, Badal said that it was an open secret because we have been denied justice one after another due to its apathy on one pretext or the other.
On the contrary, he said that the state government, despite limited means, has made concerted efforts to put the state consistently on the track of development and prosperity, the core factor of which was complete peace, harmony and brotherhood.
Listing out the achievements, the chief minister said that they had opened up nine new universities, 17 degree colleges and six special schools for meritorious students, besides launching Dr Hargobind Khurana scholarship scheme of Rs 30,000 annually for students securing 80% or more in matriculation from government schools.
"Medicity project on over 1,500 acres of land in Mullanpur (New Chandigarh), efforts to establish drug de-addiction centres in addition to several social security schemes such as Shagun, Atta-Dal, Old age and Widow Pension are examples of firm commitment to make New Punjab," Badal said.
The CM also honoured three distinguished police officers SP (D), Amritsar rural, Jasdeep Singh, sub-inspector Didar Singh and Ram Lal, RTC Jahankhela, Hoshiarpur, in addition to 32 eminent personalities from different walks of life with a citation and a cash award of Rs 25,000 and a shawl.
He also gave tri-cycles to the physically challenged persons and sewing machines to the poor and needy women.
Badal also honoured Harcharan Bains, media advisor to the CM, and SK Sandhu, principal secretary. Ludhiana police commissioner PS Gill was also present on the occasion.