As a nation, we should be able to fight and defeat threats from religious fundamentalists, V.K. Ebrahim Kunju, Minister for Public Works has said. He was addressing the district level Republic Day celebrations at Marine Drive on Thursday.

The nation is built on the ideals of democracy and secularism and we have been fighting seditious elements successfully across the country. It is the prime responsibility of every citizen to uphold the basic strengths of the nation.

The State government has been focussing on social welfare schemes, now it should work on building infrastructure facilities. A collective effort from the Union and State governments, along with local bodies, is required to take up development projects and infrastructure building efforts, Mr. Kunju said.

The Minister was received by District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed and City Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar, when he reached the venue at 8.15 a.m. He took the salute at the parade after hoisting the flag. He also distributed prizes for platoons that topped in performance at the parade.

Among the armed wings, District Armed Reserve Kochi City Police and NCC Senior Division Army Wing won first prizes. NCC Armed Wing Junior section (girls), Second Platoon in boys and Fifth Platoon in girls sections of the Student Police Cadets, CCPLM High School, Perumbavoor in Scouts and St. Antony's, Ernakulam, in girls section won first prizes. St. Antony's, Government Girls' HSS and St. Mary's won the top three positions in Junior Red Cross. St. Mary's LPS topped in Bulbuls and Cubs.

The parade was led by M.V. Poulose, Reserve Inspector, Armed Reserve, Kochi City.

CCPLM High School, Perumbavoor, St. Teresa's High School and St. Antony's High School won the top three prizes in band performance. Students of Ernakulam Government Girls' High School won prizes for patriotic song.

At Naval Command

The city-based Southern Naval Command celebrated the Republic Day with grandeur. The ceremonies commenced with Vice-Admiral K.N. Sushil, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, paying homage at the Naval Base's war memorial.

Later, the Vice-Admiral reviewed an impressive ceremonial parade led by Commander Akaash Joseph at the Parade Ground.

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