India celebrates Republic Day every year to commemorate the ratification of the Indian Constitution on Jan. 26, 1950, after independence.
India celebrated its 70th Republic Day Saturday. Republic Day is celebrated in the country to honor the day Indian Constitution came into effect on Jan. 26, 1950, replacing the Government of India Act which was passed by Britain to govern India.
Independent India celebrates Republic Day every year with much grandiosity where military might is put on display for the world. Every year, the celebration also witnesses various world leaders as chief guests of the parade. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was this year’s chief guest.
However, other events taking place on this day, call these grandiosities into question.
At dawn, Republic Day was marred with the blood of two Kashmiris killed by Indian forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Kashmiris, who want independence from India, are engaged in a three-decades-long armed struggle where pro-freedom militants and unarmed civilians are killed at regular intervals by the mighty Indian state.
Marking Republic Day in Washington D.C., a group of Sikhs (a religious minority in India), burned the national flag outside the Indian embassy as a form of anti-India protest. Sikhs, mainly residing in the Western state of Punjab, want their own independent country named Khalistan. They have been demanding this since India was awarded independence by the British in 1947.
But the Indian state has been violently suppressing their movement with continuous arrests based only on suspicion and by disbanding any organization that shows sympathy to the Khalistan cause.
The eve of the Republic Day saw the arrest of nine activists in the northeastern state of Assam who were protesting against the anti-minority Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from neighboring countries.
This law enshrines non-Muslims under the backdrop of the state government having removed almost four million Muslims from the citizenship rolls, some of whom have been living in the country for more than three decades, rendering them effectively stateless, despite most of them having Indian government-issued identity cards.
Determining citizenship based on religion violates the Indian constitution, and so does killing innocent civilians based on their place of birth.
Since far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, attacks on minorities and lower caste people have risen, with cases of mob lynchings circulating in the news every so often.
Republic Day is being celebrated amid the violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution of India, and which the ruling BJP party and leaders of affiliated parties, have chosen to encourage these kinds of attack on those marginalized groups, which have triggered these protests.