President Droupadi Murmu showered her affection on Assam once again when she embarked on a three day visit to the State to attend a slew of programmes, including the platinum jubilee celebration of Gauhati High Court and the inauguration of Gaj Utsav (Elephant Festival) in Kaziranga National Park (KNP), while ending her visit to the State on a literal high by taking a historic sortie in a Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter aircraft from the Air Force base in Tezpur, prior to her departure to New Delhi.
The First Citizen of the country landed in Bokakhat on April 6 where she was welcomed by Governor Gulab Chand Kataria, Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, senior ministers of the State and top officials.
On the second day of her visit, the President inaugurated Gaj Utsav-2023 at the KNP. Speaking on the occasion, the President dwelt on the sacred relationship between nature and humanity. “The culture of respecting nature has been the identity of our country. In India, nature and culture are linked to each other and have been receiving nourishment from each other. Elephants are respected in our tradition. It is considered a symbol of prosperity. It is the National Heritage Animal of India. Therefore, protecting elephants is an important part of our national responsibility to preserve our national heritage,” she said.
Murmu said that actions which are in the interest of nature, animals, and birds, are also in the interest of humanity and mother Earth.
The First Citizen was of the view that elephants, considered as very intelligent and sensitive, are also social animals like humans. She said that the species deserve the same sense of sympathy and respect as humans. She added that mankind can learn the feeling of selfless love from animals and birds.
The President said that the ‘Human-Elephant Conflict’ has been an issue for centuries. She pointed out that barriers created in the natural habitat or movement of elephants is the root cause of such conflicts. She noted that protecting elephants, conserving their natural habitats, and keeping elephant corridors free from obstruction are the main objectives of Project Elephant.
During her speech, she said that Assam has the second largest population of wild elephants in the country and termed Kaziranga an apt place for organising the Gaj-Utsav.
Later in the evening, she graced a programme organised to mark the completion of 75 years of Gauhati High Court in Guwahati. On the occasion, she launched a mobile app ‘Bhoroxa’ created for the safety of women and elderly people.
Addressing the gathering, the President said that the Gauhati High Court holds a unique place in India’s judicial landscape. “Since its inception in 1948, it had jurisdiction over seven States for more than six decades and still has jurisdiction over four States. It has established a distinct identity for itself by producing leading legal luminaries. It has also received attention for delivering several landmark decisions,” she said. She expressed confidence that the Gauhati High Court would continue to serve the people in the same manner in the years to come.
The President said that the North Eastern region is possibly the best example of how various communities have lived together historically. “As a result, it has rich ethnic and linguistic diversity. In such a region, institutions need to have a great deal of sensitivity and responsibility, as divergent traditions and laws govern the lives of the people. The legislations applicable to different areas may vary, but the entire area is administered by a common High Court,” Murmu said. She conveyed her satisfaction that the Gauhati High Court has continued to uphold customary laws, that have been in practice in some of the States, under its jurisdiction.
The President said that justice, by definition, must be inclusive, and thus must be accessible to all.
A historic sortie
President Droupadi Murmu took a historic sortie in a Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter aircraft from the Tezpur Air Force Station on the concluding day of her three-day visit to the State. The President, who is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, flew for approximately 30 minutes covering Brahmaputra and Tezpur valley with a view of Himalayas before returning to the Air Force Station. The aircraft was flown by Group Captain Naveen Kumar, Commanding Officer of the 106 Squadron. The aircraft flew at a height of about two kilometers above sea level and at a speed of about 800 kilometers per hour. President Murmu is the third President and second woman President of the country to undertake such a sortie. Later in the visitor’s book, the President expressed her feelings by writing a brief note which read “It was an exhilarating experience for me to fly in the mighty Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force. It is a matter of pride that India’s defence capabilities have expanded immensely to cover all the frontiers of land, air and sea. I congratulate the Indian Air Force and the entire team of Air Force Station Tezpur for organising this sortie.”