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Meghalaya plans musical I-Day function

Shillong, Aug. 8: Last year’s Independence Day celebration here was inspiring and this year promises to be no different with music acting as a bait to draw crowds.

Calcutta band Hip Pocket is all set to join local musicians and guest singers from Nagaland and Mizoram to perform at the Polo Ground on August 15. Last year, an Australian band had been invited to perform during the Independence Day celebrations at the same venue.

The government wants to ensure full participation of school students and residents at the Jawaharlal Nehru sports complex, the official venue of the Independence Day celebration.

Though no bandh or boycott calls have been declared so far by any underground group, the Congress-led government does not want to take chances. The government wants to drive home a message to some underground groups that people “are tired” of bandhs and disruptions.

Bandhs calls by underground outfits on Independence Day have become a common feature.

For over a decade now, militants have been disrupted Independence Day celebrations in various parts of the region.

“We want to infuse the feeling of nationalism among the schoolchildren and look forward to their participation. They are our target group and therefore we must ensure that they grow up with that feeling,” said information technology minister in the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government Mukul Sangma.

According to Sangma, roping in rock bands from outside the state to feature in the celebration has made “a great difference”. He feels “spice is the variety of life” and “something new is always appreciated and effective”.

While the denizens of Shillong are trying to make up for “the lost years”, in Garo hills the mood is upbeat. Sangma is confident that with the ANVC having signed a ceasefire declaration recently, the celebrations will be more peaceful and meaningful.

For the last three years, the ANVC had refrained from boycotting Independence Day and had said it was against calling a boycott as its demand was not secession from India. However, other outfits, which have been active in Garo hills, have supported boycott calls by other underground outfits of the region.

Sangma is optimistic that with the desired facelift given to the celebrations, especially in the Meghalaya capital, remaining indoors during Independence Day would become a thing of the past.

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