Kolkata, Aug 15 (IANS) Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee unfurled the Tricolour and observed a vibrant parade as West Bengal joined the rest of the nation to celebrate the 73rd Independence Day on Thursday.
Earlier in two midnight Twitter posts, Banerjee called for organising peaceful movements to preserve political and economic freedom, freedom of expression and democratic rights and highlighted that secularism is what identifies and unites India as a nation.
She said: "We must always strive for political freedom, economic freedom, freedom of expression and preserve democratic rights. When these are not given, we should organise peaceful movements to preserve these rights."
In another tweet, she said democracy is India's most priceless asset. "Let us take an oath today, not to divide India. We must unite India. Irrespective of caste or creed, we are all one India. Secularism is what identifies and unites us as a nation."
The main function to celebrate the momentous day here was held at the arterial Indira Gandhi Sarani (erstwhile Red Road) where Banerjee, her ministers, senior bureaucrats and police officers, armed forces officers and members of the diplomatic corps took part.
Banerjee hoisted the national flag from a makeshift stage and took the salute before she inspected a guard of honour given by the state and city police.
After a helicopter showered petals, Banerjee presented police medals to three officers - Additional Director General (South Bengal) Sanjay Singh, Director (security) Vineet Goel and Commissioner of Police (Barrackpore) Manoj Verma for their outstanding and commendable service.
She also gave medals to five other police officers for their meritorious performance.
Various wings of the police and NCC cadets then participated in a parade and folk dance troupes from across the state depicted the diverse culture of the country as also Bengal with their colourful performances.
A number of state government departments brought out colourful tableaux highlighting government schemes like jol dhoro, jol bhoro (water conservation), kanyashree (improving the status and well being of girls) and sabuj sathi (distribution of cycles to school students).
The tableaux brought out by the Information and Cultural Affairs Department highlighted diverse cultural and ethnicity in Bengal, while the sports and youth welfare ministry showcased ball juggling skills by 70 budding soccer players.
Tribal school students from Bankura's Mukutmanipur, folk artistes from Darjeeling hills and tea gardens, chow dancers from Purulia and some select city schools mesmerised the audience with their song and dance presentations.
After the Trinamool came to power in 2011, Banerjee started the ritual of the Independence Day parade at the Indira Gandhi Sarani.
Earlier, Banerjee was present at midnight Independence Day celebrations organised by her party Trinamool Congress at South Kolkata's Hazra Crossing.
Independence Day was also celebrated in schools and colleges, hospitals and other government and non-government institutions across the state.
Patriotic songs reverberated in the air while people exchanged greetings and wishes on the occasion.