New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday unfurled the national flag at the Red Fort to mark the 73rd Independence Day.
Modi arrived at the 17th century monument amid as huge crowd awaited him.
Earlier he paid tribute to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi at the Rajghat and drove straight to the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort, where he was greeted by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra.
Later, he received a Guard of Honour from a contingent of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Delhi Police. He then unfurled the national flag as a 21 gun-salute greeted the nation.
The Prime Minister earlier in the day greeted the nation "Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Indians. Jai Hind!" on Twitter and also wished them on the auspicious occasion of Raksha Bandhan.
This will be his sixth consecutive address to the nation as the Prime Minister ever since the BJP-led NDA first stormed to power in 2014.
PM offers condolences to flood victims
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday condoled the victims of floods in several parts of the country and assured that all possible support would be provided.
Addressing the nation from the Red Fort on the 73rd Independence Day, Modi said: "When the country is celebrating Independence day, many parts of the country is facing the problem of floods due to heavy rains."
He said many people have lost their lives in the floods and "I condole their death".
"We stand in complete solidarity with those affected by the floods and I assure that all possible support that is needed will be provided to them by the central and the state governments," he added.
Floods hit several parts of Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Karnataka, Asaam and Bihar due to heavy, incessant rains.
Modi also extended his greetings on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.
Revoking Article 370 is step towards realising Sardar Patel's dream
Prime Minister said with the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, the dream of "One Nation, One Constitution" has been realised, as he lashed out at the opposition speaking against the move, asking if they felt it was so necessary why didn't they make it permanent in the past 70 years.
Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Modi said his government within 70 days of its second term had revoked Article 370 and 35A, doing the work that previous governments have been unable to do in the past 70 years.
Attacking those opposing the abrovation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir, he said: "For those speaking in favour of Article 370 and 35A, the country is asking if they were so important for changing the country's fortunes, then why didnt you make it permanent? Why did you keep it as temporary (clauses)?"
"If you had the conviction, why didn't you make it permanent?"
He said there were many who in their heart of hearts knew that Article 370, 35A were not good, but lacked the courage to do anything. "Because you too knew that what had happened was not proper, but lacked the courage to go forward."
"For me the country's future is everything, not my political future," he said.
"Now one can say with pride, One Nation, One Constitution," Prime Minister Modi said.
He said the decision to revoke Article 370 was a step towards realising the dream of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel of a united India.
"In this short span of time, we have taken important steps in every sector. Article 370 and 35A being revoked from Jammu and Kashmir is a step towards realising the dream of Sardar Patel."
On abolishing Triple Talaq, he said it was aimed at benefitting Muslim women. Modi said the country has taken several steps for women, including ending the evil of female foeticide. "If we can take so many steps then why not raise our voices against the evil of Triple talaq, so that our Muslim sisters get equal respect and are part of the country's progress. The decision is not to be weighed in political terms," he said.
Modi also announced a new Jal Jeevan Mission for realising the vision of Har Ghar Jal, or drinking water to every home, with an allocation of Rs 3,59,000 crore.
He also paid tribute to the those who laid their lives for the Independence of the nation.
"There were many who laid their lives for the nation. Many were hanged to death for our freedom. Today I remember all of them. Today, for the development of our free India, everybody who has contributed to this, I remember all of them."
This year's event marks the participation of 3,500 girl students drawn from 41 government schools in Delhi; 5,000 boy spectators and 700 NCC cadets from 17 schools displaying 'strength in unity' through the formation of the words Naya Bharat, a Ministry of Defence statement had said.