The Telangana government’s decision to organise its first Independence Day celebrations at the Golconda Fort instead of the Secunderabad Parade Grounds has sparked off a political controversy with opposition parties questioning the motive behind the move. At the same time, a dispute has also broken out between the state government and the army over the venue of the parade. The army has objected to celebrations on the land which they claim belongs to the ministry of defence.
When the state government officials reached the area for making arrangements for Independence Day celebrations, the army officers rushed there to stop them. They said that it was compulsory to secure permission from the ministry of defence.
The disputed 50 acres of land is located behind the fort. While the army claims the area as its own property, the state record shows that the land belongs to the government.
In view of the dispute, the state government and the army have decided to undertake a joint survey. The state government has also decided to seek the permission from the defence ministry to organise the I-Day celebrations.
This will be the maiden Independence Day celebration since the formation of Telangana and hence a lot of importance is given to it.
Even as the state police started its rehearsals at the sprawling grounds of the 13th century fort built by Kakatiya rulers, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Telugu Desam Party have criticised shifting of the venue.
While the TDP has alleged that it was an attempt to glorify the rule of the Nizams, whose era ended with the merger of the princely state of Hyderabad Union in September 1948, the BJP described the fort as “symbol of repression and tyranny”.
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, on the other hand defended the government’s decision, saying, “It was an effort to restore the history, culture and tradition of Telangana”. He said that the celebrations on August 15 this year would reflect the past glory of the region.
So determined was KCR to move the celebrations from Secunderabad Grounds to the Golconda Fort in the south-western parts of the city that he personally visited the historic fort, spent two hours with officials to pick a suitable spot for flag hoisting, a parade and a public address.
After yet another review meeting with the top officials on Wednesday, the CM took a final decision to hoist the flag near Rani Mahal and take the parade’s salute. The meeting was attended by senior government and police officials. He wanted the sprawling grounds near the Taramati Mosque and Rani Mahal to be the permanent venue for a parade on Independence Day and Republic Day.
However, the state BJP President G Kishan Reddy raised questions about the plans. “What is the need to change the venue? What does it mean to hoist a national flag on a fort which is a symbol of repression and tyranny?”
He also linked the fort with the Nizam’s era and demanded that the TRS government should celebrate September 17 as Hyderabad Liberation Day officially. It was on this day in 1948 that the military operation ordered by the then home minister Sardar Patel made Hyderabad part of the Indian Union.
TDP leader and minister of irrigation in Andhra Pradesh Devineni Umamaheshwara Rao also attacked KCR. “To bring the recognition to the Nizam’s era KCR is organising celebrations at the fort,” he said.
TRS leaders on the other hand ridiculed BJP’s objection. “If the government of India can organise Independence Day celebration at the Red Fort built by the Moghuls and prime ministers can unfurl the national flag there, why can’t we hold festivities at Golconda Fort? Or is the BJP government planning to change the venue of the celebrations in Delhi this year,” asked a senior TRS leader.
Image: The Golconda Fort