UP: Unnao Municipal Corporation Asks Rs 20 ‘Token Money’ for National Flag, Backtracks Later
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Lucknow: Ahead of India's 75th Independence Day, a Municipal Corporation in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao issued an order asking its employees to make available the national flag to each household for a token money of Rs 20 each for the Centre’s "Har Ghar Tiranga," a campaign to hoist the national tricolour in every household in August to mark 75-years of Independence under the Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
A letter, with the sign and seal of the Nagar Palika Parishad Gangaghat officer Narendra Mishra, says the tricolour will be given to the public after a token payment of Rs 20 per piece. Under the Centre’s Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav', flags are available in the office, with a view to meeting a target of ensuring that a flag is hoisted in every household. The responsibility for distribution of the tricolour is being given to employees of the municipality to ensure flags are hoisted compulsorily on buildings, says the purported letter.
However, after the letter went viral on social media, Unnao chief development officer (CDO) Divyanshu Patel clarified saying that the order was not “binding” on the residents and the token money could be 0 or Re 1. Flags will be provided for free for households that can't afford it, he clarified.
The CDO said: "I want to make it clear that the 'Har Ghar Tiranga Abhiyan' is the campaign of every citizen. I sincerely hope that all the citizens of Unnao will not only hoist the national flag atop their houses but will also participate in other activities. It is the responsibility of the administration to provide the flag free of cost to the citizens who cannot afford it".
An Unnao resident, on the condition of anonymity, told NewsClick: “The order was issued on July 29 by the Gangaghat municipal corporation asking its employees to ensure every household hoists the national flag between August 12 to 15 and Rs 20 should be taken for each flag. When people complained to the officer concerned and letter went viral on social media, the CDO intervened and took cognisance.”
Commenting on the order issued by the Unnao Municipal Corporation, a Samajwadi Party spokesperson said: "It is shameful that people are being asked to cough up Rs 20 for the tricolour. People should not be compelled to buy tricolour, instead the government should provide flags free."
In a similar case, a primary school headmaster in Hathras district was suspended for allegedly asking students for money for the national flag to celebrate Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsava.
The action was taken against the headmaster by the basic shiksha adhikari (BSA) after a video of the incident went viral on social media on Saturday.
In the video, which was shot after morning prayers at a government primary school in village Budhaich under Sahpau block of Hathras district on August 2, the headmaster Brajesh Kumar can be seen asking students to bring Rs 15 for the I-Day celebration which, he said, was as per the order issued by the state government and chief minister.
"The headmaster's demand for Rs 15 from students to celebrate the 'Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsava' was illegal. There were no such orders. In violation of the dignity of a teacher, he was seen addressing students in jeans and T-shirt. He has been suspended," BSA Hathras Sandeep Kumar told the media.
Shubham Shukla, a social activist, who said he had bought around 5,000 national flags to celebrate Independence Day in slum areas in the state capital, criticised the ongoing sale of national flag by the Union Government. “The BJP spends huge money on ferrying people to far-off places for public rallies of its leaders and distributing its party flags among people free of cost. Now, the same saffron party is coercing, even poor people, including school students, to buy the national flag for Rs 15 to Rs 20,” he alleged.
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