The Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday faced severe criticism on social media after it tweeted a photograph showing the body of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh draped with the party’s flag on top of the tricolour.
The incident took place as Singh’s body lay in the state at his residence in Lucknow. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those who paid tribute. Singh, 89, died on Saturday in a hospital in Lucknow.
According to Section 4 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act:
3.16 No other flag or bunting shall be placed higher than or above or, except as hereinafter provided, side by side with the National Flag; nor shall any object including flowers or garlands or emblem be placed on or above the Flag-mast from which the Flag is flown.— Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act; Section IV, Incorrect Display
Singh, who was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri Mosque demolition took place,
was accused of criminal conspiracy in the case. He was acquitted by a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in September along with senior BJP leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti.
Singh had also been the governor of Rajasthan between 2014 and 2015.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said on Twitter that it was an insult to the national flag. “As one who had to fight a court case for four years merely for placing my hand on my heart during the singing of the National Anthem (rather than standing stiffly to attention), I think the nation should be told how the ruling party feels about this insult,” he tweeted.
In 2013, Shashi Tharoor was charged under Section 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, according to The Hindu. It provides for punishment those who “prevent the singing of the Indian national anthem or cause disturbance to any assembly engaged in such singing”.
Samajwadi Party spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari tweeted: “Party above the Nation. Flag above the Tricolor. BJP as usual: no regret, no repentance, no sorrow, no grief.”
Here are some more reactions:
In January, the Centre had criticised farmers for hoisting a flag related to the Sikh religion at the Red Fort during their tractor rally on Republic Day.
“India will not tolerate the manner in which the tricolour was insulted at the Red Fort,” former Union minister Prakash Javadekar had said without mentioning any specific law or decorum, under which the national flag might have been insulted.
Significantly, the protestors at the time did not take down the Indian flag atop the Red Fort.