The Union Culture Ministry had asked States to use all possible channels of delivery to make Indian flags available as a part of the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign, but buying a flag was “purely voluntary”, a senior Ministry official said on Wednesday, a day after the video of customers at a fair price shop in Haryana being forced to buy flags went viral.
A fair price shop in Haryana’s Karnal district was forcing customers to buy a flag of ₹20 each before being able to get their rations under the Public Distribution System (PDS), according to the video in which the man running the shop says he was acting on instructions from higher-ups. In an order on Tuesday, the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department of Haryana government suspended the monthly supply to the fair price shop in question. The order said the fair price shop licensee in Dadupur village, Dinesh Kumar, had violated the instructions given to all licensees by the block authorities not to “trouble poor families” and in doing so, had sullied the image of the department and the government.
Purchase purely voluntary
The official of the Culture Ministry, which launched the Har Ghar Tiranga programme under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to celebrate 75 years of Independence, said the Haryana government had taken action in the matter. The Ministry had not issued instructions to States regarding fair price shops and other locations, but asked them to “use various channels of delivery” to make Indian flags available to the public. The purchase of flags was “purely voluntary” and there was “no coercion”, the official said. The Har Ghar Tiranga programme aims to encourage 20 crore households to hoist the Tricolour from August 13 to August 15.
Reacting to the video of customers complaining about being forced to buy flags to get rations, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, said in a Facebook post that the Tricolour was a matter of pride for Indians. Nationalism could never be sold and it was shameful that the poor were being made to buy flags for ₹20 each in order to get their rations, he said in the post written in Hindi. He said the BJP government was attacking the Tricolour and the self-respect of the country’s poor.