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Sunny but chilly Republic Day in Himachal


Shimla, Jan 26 (IANS) Republic Day was celebrated across Himachal Pradesh on Monday with gaiety despite a sunny, chilly morning in the state.

Governor Urmila Singh unfurled the national flag at the main function at the historic Ridge here. This was her last Republic Day function here as she demitted office on Monday.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, his ministers and other dignitaries were present.

The main attraction was again a 13-member band contingent of reformed prisoners. They marched for the first time in the last Republic Day parade.

Donning white dresses with a striped band at the waist, the band was led by murder convict Ram Kishan.

The prisoners were from the Model Central Jail in Kanda near Shimla and the Central Jail in Nahan.

Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) S.R. Mardi told IANS that their participation was part of the government’s initiatives to reform and rehabilitate them.

He said an orchestra has been set up by the prison department at Nahan so that prisoners can make some money through performances.

Tribal artistes from Bharmour in Chamba district were among the performing troupes. Cultural programmes were also staged by school children.

The governor took the salute at an impressive parade by contingents of police, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, home guards, the army, NCC and ex-servicemen.

Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir hoisted the national flag at the function held in the complex of the Himachal Pradesh High Court here.

In snow-bound Keylong, headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti, Deputy Commissioner Hans Raj Chauhan presided over the official function.

Excise and Taxation Minister Prakash Chaudhary presided over the district-level function at Rekong Peo in Kinnaur district.

Despite the chill, people took part in flag hoisting ceremonies and witnessed cultural programmes.