Rashtirya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday defied a district collector’s order restraining him from unfurling the national flag at a government-aided school in Kerala’s Palakkad district. The district education officer has sought a report from Karnakiyamman School on the matter.

Bhagwat, however, refused to comment on why he violated the order. “The school management invited me to the function to celebrate Independence Day,” he told reporters after the function. “I don’t have anything to say on this issue. It is up to them to explain.”

Bhagwat, who is on a two-day visit to Kerala to attend RSS meetings, hoisted the tricolour at Karnakiyamman School in Palakkad on Tuesday. However, it was not hoisted on the official flag pole of the school. Instead, he unfurled the national flag on a temporary pole. Karnakiyamman School is managed by RSS supporters.

The district collector, who was informed by the intelligence department about Bhagwat’s function, had warned the school management on Monday. He had said that it was against the Kerala Education Rules to allow a political leader to hoist the national flag at the school. “Only people’s representatives or the school manager can hoist the national flag in a government-funded school,” the district collector’s order had said.

But the school management said Bhagawat has every right to hoist the national flag. “If the prime minister can hoist the national flag at the Red Fort, RSS chief can unfurl the tricolour at our school,” officials of the school management told reporters.

They further said that the education department had, in a previous notification, told them to invite social workers for the Independence Day celebrations. “We just followed the instructions,” they added.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party alleged that the state government forced the district collector to issue the order. “Any Indian citizen can hoist national flag on the Independence Day. RSS hasn’t defied the law,” said former BJP State President V Muraleedharan.