KOLKATA: People must do all it takes to preserve the basic principles on which this country was founded, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on the occasion of 74th Independence Day on Saturday.
The Independence Day celebrations were subdued in West Bengal due to the COVID-19 situation.
"Happy Independence Day to all my brothers and sisters. We salute all those who sacrificed their lives to make the dream of a 'free nation' come true. Our freedom was hard-earned, and we must do all it takes to preserve the basic principles on which this country was founded," she said in a Twitter post.
Banerjee unfurled the Tri-colour and inspected the guard of honour of various contingents of the West Bengal Police at the state function held on Red Road in Kolkata.
Only a few ministers and government officials were present on the occasion.
She felicitated 25 frontline workers who recovered from COVID-19 and rejoined duty.
A song composed by Banerjee -- 'Corona chole jabe ekdin, COVID joddhader mone rekho' (Coronavirus will be defeated one day, but remember the COVID-19 warriors) - was played on the background during the felicitation.
The Transport Department's 'Save Drive Save Life' tableau displayed the message of wearing masks to defeat COVID-19.
Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said Independence Day was celebrated in a minimalistic manner due to the COVID- 19 situation.
He said the state government will distribute five lakh masks among the people starting from Saturday.
The chief minister had earlier urged the people to celebrate Independence Day by strictly adhering to safety measures.
"Every year we observe 'Freedom at Midnight' by hoisting the Tri-colour at the stroke of midnight. This year let's do the same, but stay safe. Wear a mask and keep distance. Our great nation has overcome many challenges. This one too shall be overcome. Jai Hind. Bande Mataram," she tweeted.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who went to Gandhi Ghat in Barrackpore to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, called for ensuring that democratic values "are not compromised" and shunning of political violence.
"Paying floral tributes to Father of the Nation at Gandhi Ghat Barrackpore on Independence Day. Urged people to recall the sacrifice of freedom fighters and ensure democratic values are not compromised," Dhankhar tweeted.
"We must abjure political violence and keep nation always first. Independence Day greetings to all. Time for all of us to pledge -- always keep nation first," he added.
The Tri-colour was hoisted at different community clubs, offices of political parties and organisations sans any gathering.
West Bengal has till Friday registered 1,10,358 COVID-19 cases, including 2,319 fatalities. The recovery rate among COVID-19 patients in the state has improved to 73.57 per cent as 2,572 more people have been cured of the disease.