Washington, DC – The 70th Republic Day of India was observed with pomp and ceremony at the Indian Embassy here today. As the event was winding down, with the attendees enjoying hot steaming tea and coffee along with Indian delicacies, there arrived a small continent of less than 20 protestors, shouting anti-India and pro-Khalistan slogans and waving Khalistan and Sikh Students Federation flags.
Hundreds of attendees of Republic Day celebrations, instead of dispersing, faced the alleged foreign-nation funded Khalistani protestors, outnumbered them, and drowned them out with shouts of Vande Mataram. Soon the Tricolor flags had surrounded the minuscule protesting group. The DC Metropolitan Police Department, present to guard against any untoward incident, soon intervened to keep the two sides apart.
While the surging pro-India group in hundreds kept vigilance, and the environment was electrified with pro-India slogans and Tricolor flags, the pro-Khalistan voices lost the battle and Pakistani press presence couldn’t pump up their morale. There were theatrics, comments and muted speeches by the protestors as Pakistani media rolled their cameras. Despite rumors however, the claims of burning of the Indian flag and a strong turnout by the protesting group are false.
Smooth Commemoration of Republic Day
Earlier the new Indian Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla paid floral tributes to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in front of the embassy and unfurled the national flag in the presence of a record number of Indian-Americans to celebrate the 70th Republic Day. Despite biting cold and below freezing temperatures, Indian Americans, including families with kids, gathered early and the enthusiasm was palpable.
The unfurling of the Indian Tricolor, the National Flag of India, was followed by singing of the Indian National Anthem. The newly arrived top Indian diplomat in the US gave his maiden speech to a packed standing-only room which overflowed outside the building and on to the street.
Ambassador Shringla lauded the pivotal role played by the Indian diaspora in the US in contributing to strengthening the bonds of friendship between the two countries. Thanking the attendees for turning out in such large numbers, the ambassador felt it was, “a reflection of their affection for India and as a source of strength and inspiration for the Embassy as we seek to further strengthen and deepen the bonds of friendship between India and USA.”
Ambassador Shringla also read Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the nation. The speech highlighted three important milestones: commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi; the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of India; and elections for the 17th Lok Sabha.
The program concluded with the singing of patriotic songs by young students from the Gandharva School of Music, Richmond, Virginia.
Photo Opportunity for All
The amiable and charming ambassador first obliged the attendees by posing for pictures inside the embassy. Then without hesitation, Shringla stepped out again in the sub-zero temperatures and participated in group photos and selfies in the shadow of the iconic Mahatma Gandhi statue.