Mamata unfurls tri-colour, sends sweets to prisoners

August 15th, 2011 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Aug 15 (IANS) Mamata Banerjee Monday became West Bengal’s first woman chief minister to unfurl the national flag as the state joined the rest of the nation in celebrating the 65th Independence Day amid stringent security.

Banerjee inspected a guard of honour near the secretariat, offered floral tributes at the martyrs’ column, garlanded Netaji’s portrait and then rushed to the Central Correctional Home here to greet inmates. Later, acting on her instruction, city mayor Sovan Chatterjee distributed sweets among the undertrials and those serving sentences.

The chief minister also paid her respects at the gallows where revolutionary Khudiram Bose was hanged Aug 11, 1908.

Governor M.K. Narayanan took part in a prayer meeting and offered flowers at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial column in Gandhighat of North 24 Parganas district’s Barrackpore, about 25 km from here. A large number of school children were present at the function which ended with the rendering of ‘Ramdhun’.

Later, Narayanan paid respects at Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the Maidan.

Talking to reporters, the governor said: “I think the biggest challenge is development to ensure the poor rise above the poverty line.”

As in earlier years, the Trinamool Congress raised the national flag at a midnight function near the busy Hazra crossing of south Kolkata. Hundreds of enthusiastic party activists sang patriotic songs. Banerjee, however, could not be present due to protocol issues.

To prevent untoward incidents, vigil was stepped up at 27 exit and entry points to the metropolis. Additional 3,000 police personnel were deployed and security beefed up at vital installations like the NSC Bose Airport, government buildings, metro railway stations, Howrah and Sealdah stations, bus terminus and shopping malls.

Several quick response teams were on duty across the city, special task force personnel were on intense mobile patrolling, while police pickets were set up in various areas.

Special security arrangements were made in villages along the state’s borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan and also across the Junglemahal - the Maoist-dominated forested areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura - in view of the leftwing ultras’ call for boycotting Independence Day celebrations.

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