New Delhi, Oct 2 (UNI) President Pratibha Patil today led the nation in paying rich tributes to the Father of the Nation as the 138th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was celebrated as 'International Day of Non-Violence'.
Ms Patil, Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams, besides several leaders including Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Defence Minister A K Antony, visited the Raj Ghat here to pay floral tributes to the Mahatma. An all-religion prayer meeting was held at the Samadhi to mark the occasion.
Dr Singh released a commemorative postage stamp on the occasion and administered a pledge to the nation while thanking the world for helping India realise its dream of declaring October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, as 'International Day of Non-Violence'.
''Today the heart of every Indian, of every citizen of the world who has been touched by the message of Mahatma Gandhi, is filled with joy and gratitude. We are grateful to the world community for declaring this auspicious day as International Day of Non-Violence,'' he said, exhorting the countrymen to follow the Gandhiji's message of non-violence the fight for truth.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit administered 'India of my Dreams' pledge to officers and employees of the state government at the Delhi Secretariat to mark the day.
The United Nations observed the first International Day of Non-Violence by calling on Myanmar's military rulers to stop violence against peaceful protesters and engage in political dialogue with the pro-democracy campaign in the country.
Chief of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific(UNESCAP) Noeleen Heyzer and Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar also unveiled a bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the ceremony at the UN building.
She then read out a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which he explained the current relevance of Gandhi's message of non-violence with an indirect reference to the crackdown on anti-government street protests in Myanmar.
Maharashtra Governor S M Krishna and Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh offered florat tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Bhavan and witnessed a Bhajan recital and later along with other dignitaries took the 'India of My Dreams' pledge.
In Sikkim, police detained many monks and youth of the Lepcha community when they attempted to take out a peace procession towards Gandhi statue to focus their plight in Sikkim.
About 100 monks and Lepcha youths under the banner of Sangha of Dzongu (SOD) and Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim (CLOS) carrying a portrait of the Father of Nation took out a rally with banners, prayer flags along with the tri-colour to protest proposed erection of dams and setting up power projects in tribal north Sikkim.
Taking a break from the Ram Sethu controversy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi led the people of the state in paying glowing tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.
Governor S S Barnala and Mr Karunanidhi, accompanied by his ministerial colleagues, paid floral tributes to the statue of the Mahatma at Marina.