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BJD activist held on charge of disfiguring tricolour

Special Correspondent

Complaints filed seeking action against those who insulted the National Flag

BHUBANESWAR: The controversy over the incident in which disrespect was allegedly shown to the national flag at the foundation day meeting of the ruling Biju Janata Dal took a curious turn on Wednesday with the city police arresting an activist of the party on the charges of disfiguring the tricolor.

BJD activist Janakar Sahu was arrested under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, and investigation in the case was in progress, Deputy Commissioner of Police Himanshu Lal told presspersons.

The national flag was presented by Mr. Sahu to BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at a meeting that was held at the party's headquarters in the city on Sunday.

The next day as many as three separate complaints were filed by convener of Save Odisha Forum Bhabani Parija, BJP leader Anir Dhir and Odisha Lok Dal president Dipti Ranjan Mohanty at the Capital police station seeking action against all those who had shown disrespect to the national flag by violating the relevant laws. Mr. Mohanty had also moved a local court on Tuesday on the issue.

Interestingly, when Mr. Sahu presented the flag to Mr. Patnaik it was announced that it was the same, flag which was put on the late former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik's body during the funeral procession of the late leader way back in 1997, and Mr. Sahu had saved the flag from getting burnt in the funeral pyre. It is alleged that the flag, which was presented to Mr. Patnaik in the presence many Ministers and a large gathering of party workers, had the BJD's name written on it in Oriya along with the party symbol. The flag, however, did not have the Ashoka wheel on it.

Meanwhile, the convener of Save Odisha Forum wrote a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Police urging him to register a case on the basis of his complaint by making all those who insulted the national flag as accused.

Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party had also condemned the incident and demanded action against those who showed disrespect to the national flag in full public view.

“As far as I am concerned, there is absolutely no question of showing any disrespect to our national flag,” the Chief Minister had told presspersons on Tuesday.

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