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Hindus must ask now if their religious flag atop Lal Quila would be an acceptable sight

The liberals seem to have shot themselves in the foot by defending this brazen act.

The visuals from Delhi today, exactly 11 months after the Delhi anti-Hindu riots, have left most people shaken. As mobs consisting of lakhs of supposed farmers marched with thousands of tractors, guns, stones, swords to Delhi visuals of violence tarnished the otherwise solemn occasion of Republic Day. Police personnel were almost lynched, buses were vandalised, Khalistanis riding horses threatened to attack security personnel with sharp swords and finally, the Sikh flag was unfurled stop Lal Quila.

One can’t really say these sights were surprising. For the past three months, the Khalistani elements in the protest have been inching towards precisely this moment, especially after Sikhs For Justice, a proscribed Khalistani terror organisation announced a reward for unfurling the Khalistan flag at India Gate and the Red Fort. Unless someone was living under a rock, it was obvious from the word go that these violent delights of the Khalistanis would have violent ends.

As violent visuals continue to trickle in, the lasting sight of this siege would be the Sikh flag, flying high at Red Fort on Republic Day.

When these visuals were revealed, several people believed that the flag was a Khalistani flag. Pakistan gleefully celebrated that ‘take over’ of the Republic. However, many people soon pointed out that it was not the Khalistani flag, but the Nishan Sahib flag, sacred to Sikhs.

One of the first to mention this in a rather defensive tone was NDTV journalist, and we use the term ‘journalist’ loosely here, Sreenivasan Jain.

Sreenivasan Jain celebrated the fact that the Nishan Sahib flag was unfurled while not taking down the Indian flag. Well, thank god for the small mercies he chooses to bestow upon us, however, there is a larger question that our celebrated secular enthusiasts seem to be avoiding like the plague.

What they have conveniently done today is to justify religious flags to be unfurled atop national monuments. This would include places like the Red Fort on Republic Day, the Parliament, so on and so forth. They, of course, justify this because the ones who unfurled the Nishan Sahib flag were Khalistanis and not Hindus. They would have even justified this if they were Islamists. So for example, if during the Delhi Riots, Muslims had unfurled the Islamic flag atop the Red Ford right next to the Indian flag, the very media today that is justifying the act of Khalistanis would have justified the act of Islamists.

However, they betray their fundamental belief system, that they at least publicly pretend to espouse. To understand just how hypocritical they are, one must recall the reactions that trickled in when Hindus fruit sellers and vendors started to unfurl the saffron flag on their cart right after the Tablighi Jamaat emerged as a super-spreader of Coronavirus. This was considered as an attack on the innate nature of secularism of the country because even private citizens have no right to express their Hindu identity if it leads to the mere perception of Muslims being slighted.

In April 2020, a video had gone viral where a fruit seller and his associate, reportedly Dalit Hindus, could be seen recounting the tale of harassment faced at the hands of local Muslims in Begusrai in Bihar for putting up a saffron flag on their cart.They narrated how they were stopped on their way and interrogated about the flag on their cart. “What are you trying to prove by showcasing this flag?”, the group of Muslims had intimidated the duo.

Earlier, a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against some shop owners in Nalanda in Bihar, for sporting saffron flags in their shops. The FIR was lodged after a complaint was lodged by a block officer named Rajiv Ranjan at the Laheri Police station in Biharsharif on April 20.

The police had pressed charges under several Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections such as 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 153A (promoting enmity between religions), 188 (Disobedience) and 295A (Malicious act to outrage religious feelings). Further, a group of fruit sellers in Jamshedpur were booked by the city police for writing “Vishwa Hindu Parishad ki anumodit Hindu fal Dukan” which translates to “Hindu fruit shop approved by Vishwa Hindu Parishad”. In addition, the banners of the shop also carried the photos of Hindus deities– Lord Shiva and Lord Rama along with the phone numbers of the shop owners. However, wearing one’s identity on their sleeves did not sit well with the Jamshedpur police which acted on a complaint raised by one Twitter user, Ahsan Razi, about the overt manifestation of religion by the shop owners. The police reached the spot and got the banners removed.

But harassing private citizens for displaying their faith was not enough.

Only recently, 4 people were arrested because they carried saffron flags inside the Taj Mahal.

These actions were justified because the very journalists rejoicing today theorised that the action protected the secular fabric of the country. However, those very journalists are today taking a sigh of relief because apparently, the Indian flag was not removed before the Sikh flag was unfurled at Red Fort.

Now, the issues listed above are not really comparable. The vendors should have ideally been free to unfurl the saffron flag atop their stands because that was not a national concern. However, the fact that liberals are willing to make an excuse for the Sikh flag being unfurled at the Red Fort while demonising poor vendors for displaying the faith, shows their unbridled hypocrisy.

When the perils of their ways became somewhat clear to them, the goal was shifted rather swiftly. The narrative changed to how considerate the Khalistanis were and that Hindus had no right to complain because just earlier, the Uttar Pradesh tableau at Republic Day parade displayed the glorious culture of Ayodhya, amidst Jai Shree Ram chants.

However, that is a facetious argument yet again. These very elements forgot to mention that the Delhi Tableau also started with Allahu Akbar, a chant far more controversial than any other chant in the world. If Punjab had decided to float a tableau about a Gurudwara or one of the Sikh Gurus who Hindus revere equally, nobody would have really batted an eye.

The issue arose when the Sikh flag was unfurled at Red Ford and the act was viewed as a clear sign of Khalistani aggression. It is abundantly clear that Khalistani elements had hijacked the protests and SFJ had called to raise the Khalistani flag on Red Fort and the India Gate. Since Khalistan is a blatant assertion of religious identity leading to the demand for a separate nation-state, the unfurling of the Nishan Sahib atop Red Fort also has to be seen in that context.

Therefore, the liberals seem to have shot themselves in the foot by defending this brazen act.

There is absolutely nothing that they can say in the future if Hindus start wondering why their religious flag cannot fly atop the Red Ford or even the Parliament. As individuals, we may condemn the idea, however, per the liberal standards, this seems to be an acceptable sight as long as the Indian flag remains flying right next to it. And they can’t really be blamed for it.

Let us get one thing straight out of the way. The ‘liberals’ have already branded all Hindus who don’t toe their line as rabid Hindutvawadis. So it should come as no shock to them if the very Hindutvawadis, who think of India as a civilisational state, believe that by virtue of being a civilisational state, the Bhagwa Dhwaj should fly proudly right next to the Indian flag in every government building.

However, if the Liberals have defended the act by the Khalistanis today, with what face would they raise concerns about Hindus demanding their place in their own civilisational state? One must therefore ask the question – Would liberals willingly accept if Hindus raise the Bhagwa Dhwaj now, flying proud and high, right next to the Indian flag.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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