Former Ulhasnagar mayor and current corporator, Hardas Makhija, has been booked for disrespecting the national flag. His fault is saluting a plastic flag when the Flag Code clearly specifies that the national tricolour should be made of hand-spun and hand-woven wool, cotton or silk-khadi bunting.
“We have registered a case against Makhija under Section 12 (1) (3) of the Flag Code,” confirmed Police Inspector Suryakant Gaikwad of Ulhasnagar police station. Says Makhija, “I had come to Nehru Bhavan, the Congress office on the invitation of the Youth Congress. After gathering there, we found that the flag staff had been stolen the previous night, in an attempt to disrupt our programme.” “We decided that we couldn’t leave the function without saluting the flag, so a person held up the plastic flag and we saluted it,” adds Makhija.
According to Makhija, the function happened in the presence of police officials. “It was done in the right spirit. I did not intend to disrespect the flag. It was completely unintentional,” he said. Though the incident took place on Republic Day, the complaint was only lodged by February 9 by Jayram Lulla, the head of the Ulhasnagar district Congress. The FIR also names Govardhan Gidwani, the younger brother of Shiv Sena MLC, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani. • “When I arrived at Nehru Bhavan, we found that the flag staff had been stolen the previous night, in an attempt to disrupt our programme. We decided that we couldn’t leave without saluting the flag, so a person held up the plastic flag and we saluted it”