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UP: Now, People in Hapur Village Say Ration Vendors 'Forcing' Them to Buy Tricolour @ Rs 30

Though action was taken against some vendors, similar complaints are being heard from various other areas.
A street vendor sell tricolor flag at traffic red light on the eve of independence day in New Delhi

A street vendor sell tricolor flag at traffic red light on the eve of independence day in New Delhi. Representational Image. Image Courtesy: ANI

Lucknow: In Shaulana village, Hapur district, Uttar Pradesh, the local ration distributor has reportedly refused to give beneficiaries their due for this month unless they first pay Rs 30 on the tricolour flag. Several ration card holders said they returned empty-handed from the centre since they could not afford it.

Some beneficiaries said with skyrocketing inflation, they were hardly being able to make ends meet, so spending extra for the flag was tough for them. A ration dealer told reporters that he had been given instructions from government authorities that ration distribution for this month should take place only alongside the sale of national flags. Apparently, the dealers have already paid Rs 30 for each flag, and are keen to earn back that money.

"If we have Rs 30, we will buy vegetables or edible oil that are necessary for our meals. If the government is so keen that the tricolour should be hoisted atop every house, why can these be provided free of cost," a beneficiary told NewsClick.

Meanwhile, the District Food and Supplies Controller (DFSC) has already initiated action against the ration depot holder, who was found “forcing” ration card holders to mandatorily buy the tricolour to get rations.

The state government said it had given clear instructions that availability of the tricolour at ration shops was for the convenience of people so that they don’t have to travel far to buy flags. “No one can be compelled to buy the flag,” the district administration told the media.

As part of the celebrations around 75 years of India’s Independence, the Centre has urged people to hoist or display the national flag at their home during August 13-15 as part of the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ programme.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has been running a campaign to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call a success.

Umesh Rana, district BJP president was also seen selling national flags at Rs 20 a piece at the district headquarters, sparking a controversy.

Rana announced this on Friday after holding a meeting with party leaders to mobilise party workers for the “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

Taking a dig at BJP, Samajwadi Party president and former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said: “For some it is the flag of the country and for some it is a commodity to be sold. BJP should stop setting up shop for everything," he tweeted. 

There was another such instance where ration card holders were “forced” to buy the national flag at Rs 20 to get their monthly ration. Earlier, a Municipal Corporation in Unnao had 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,", but later back-tracked.

Read Also: UP: Unnao Municipal Corporation Asks Rs 20 ‘Token Money’ for National Flag, Backtracks Later

A letter, with the sign and seal of the Nagar Palika Parishad Gangaghat officer Narendra Mishra, said the tricolour would be given to the public after a token payment of Rs 20 per piece.

Similar reports are coming from other parts of the state. In Banda district, villagers said they were scared of police action, therefore, the tricolour flutters atop every household in the area.

Raja Bhaiya, who runs Vidya Dham Samiti, a livelihoods and rights based non-profit organisation from Banda district, told NewsClick: "Primary and government aided schools children in two villages -- Piprahari and Kachhi Purwa--  have been told to pay Rs 25 toward the government’s Har Ghar Tiranga campaign. Similarly, the kotedaar in two villages forced beneficiaries to pay Rs 20-25 for the national flag before getting their monthly ration. The poor people are doing so, as police have threatened them to buy the tricolour to hoist."

Amit Singh, a social activist based in Gorakhpur, the hometown of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, said some villagers in his area were being forced to pay Rs 25 to get their monthly ration. “This is happening everywhere, not only in Gorakhpur. BJP leaders have even set up stalls and are selling national flags for Rs 25,” he alleged.

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