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Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha salutes during India's Independence Day ceremony in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday his country has done well in containing the coronavirus pandemic and announced $1.46 trillion infrastructure projects to boost the sagging economy. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan) (AP)
Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha salutes during India's Independence Day ceremony in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday his country has done well in containing the coronavirus pandemic and announced $1.46 trillion infrastructure projects to boost the sagging economy. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan) (AP)

I-Day celebrated across Jammu region amid heightened security

The official functions witnessed low attendance as authorities restricted the entry to special invitees and also curtailed many traditional programmes as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19

The 74th Independence Day was celebrated with full zeal and patriotic fervour across Jammu region on Saturday amid heightened security arrangements and the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

However, the official functions witnessed low attendance as authorities restricted the entry to special invitees and also curtailed many traditional programmes as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The main function in Jammu region was held at Mini Stadium Parade here where K K Sharma, advisor to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, unfurled the national flag and addressed the gathering, highlighting the importance of the event.

The officials said the respective district development commissioners hoisted the national flag at the main functions in the rest of the nine districts of Jammu region, while small official functions also marked the day.

In Jammu and elsewhere, local residents hoisted the tricolour at various city chowks, while all mainstream political parties including the BJP, Congress, National Conference, PDP and Panthers Party also organised special functions to observe the day.

"I congratulate the people of the country on the auspicious occasion including those residing under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and China. This country belongs to the people living in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and those in Aksai Chin (China) as well.

"The time will come sooner or later that they will be freed and we will hoist our tricolour there as well," J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina told reporters after unfurling the national flag at the party headquarters here.

Meanwhile, two groups of sports enthusiasts celebrated Independence Day in their own style with a dozen cyclists undertaking a 74-km ride from Jammu to Samba and another group of over 50 runners covering 10 km distance in Kathua district.

Carrying national flags and chanting slogans in praise of the country, the organisers planned the events separately to convey a message of unity and motivate youngsters towards physical exercise to maintain fitness, especially during the current pandemic.

"We have decided to undertake a 74 km journey from Jammu to Samba to celebrate Independence Day and convey a positive message on the need for physical activity," the leader of over a dozen-strong group of professional cyclists said before leaving for the trip on Saturday morning.

He said they are aware of the challenging situation due to the outbreak of the pandemic and are strictly following the guidelines.

Authorities in Jammu had imposed a weekend lockdown -- from 6 pm Friday to 6 am Monday -- since July 24 following a spike in COVID-19 which had claimed a total of 39 lives in the region.

Separately, over 50 runners including 20 girls and some cyclists covered 10-km distance in Kathua district.

"We had planned this event to celebrate Independence Day and also to motivate the people especially youngsters to physical fitness," Neeraj Singh, member of Kathua distance runners, said.

Carrying flags, the participants chanted slogans in praise of the country throughout the journey in the town, while maintaining social distancing.

Police, Army, BSF, CRPF and other security forces also hoisted the tricolour in special functions at their headquarters in the hinterland and along the Line of Control (LOC) and International Border (IB), the officials said.

Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) Mayor Chander Mohan Gupta hoisted the national flag in presence of JMC Commissioner Avny Lavasa at JMC headquarters.

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