Some self-styled Indian patriots settled in the U.K. have launched a petition seeking action against those who recently tore the Indian national flag.
The incident happened during protests against visiting Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. The protests were mainly organized by groups representing religious minorities in India who feel threatened under his right-wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
Ever since Modi became prime minister in 2014, attacks on religious minorities have grown. BJP supporters frequently target Muslims and Christians, as well as so-called untouchables, while the Sikh minority fears assimilation.
Notably, the BJP considers Sikhs as part of the Hindu fold, a claim that is vehemently denied by Sikh leaders.
This claim is advanced by the BJP even though right-wing Hindu organizations have been directly or indirectly involved in attacks on Sikhs in the past and during recent times.
The Indian government reacted sharply to the “act of sacrilege” involving the flag, and the U.K. has apologized for the incident.
Though it is understandable that people can be sensitive about national flags, one can argue that this response is completely hypocritical, considering some recent developments in India.
In fact, the Indian state and its apologists outside the country have no moral right to grumble over what happened in London.
Do we need to remind them that the biggest disgrace to the flag was brought by supporters of the BJP when they rallied in support of those accused of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Kathua?
Asifa Bano belonged to a nomadic community. Some Hindu fanatics conspired to rape and kill her not only to humiliate her community, but to force them to migrate. Clearly, sexual violence was used as a political weapon on an innocent child.
Those who rallied in support of the perpetrators were seen waiving Indian national flag.
We need to ask those shedding tears for a torn flag: wasn’t this shameful? Where were these patriots when the national flag was used in defence of a rapist and murderer?
This wasn’t the first time that BJP supporters used the national flag in defence of those involved in a heinous crime. Earlier, the dead body of a Hindu extremist who was convicted for the murder of a Muslim and who had died due to illness was draped in the national flag. Why was such outrage missing when the coffin of a Hindu bigot was covered with the national flag?
A nation is not defined by a land mass, its boundaries, or its national icons, such as flags or emblems. It is represented by its people.
These patriots should rather be upset over what the current government and its supporters are doing to the citizens, by denying them equal rights, raping them, and killing them with impunity—and that, too, in complete contradiction of what the Indian constitution stands for.
The fashionable patriots who are carried away by a symbolic gesture of protesters in London should rather ask themselves whether or not the Indian constitution is based on the principles of religious freedom and equality?
If that is true, then their anger must be directed at Modi and his cohorts instead of those who only wanted to draw the international attention to the ongoing violence against minorities in India.