A Kuki civil society group has apologised for wrong display of the national flag in violation of the Flag Code of India, 2002, during a march in Manipur’s Churachandpur on Tuesday.
Tribal groups had organised an Independence Day event in Kuki-majority Churachandpur, 65 km from the state capital Imphal, where young people in military battledress holding replica assault rifles had marched on a ground.
The national flag was dipped to the side several times during the parade, which violated the Flag Code.
“It has come to our notice that violation of the Flag Code of India, 2002 or commission of an offence under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 may have occurred as alleged across various social media platforms, whereby dipping the Indian national flag in salute to any person or thing took place,” the Zomi Council Steering Committee said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The said alleged dipping of the Indian national flag was never intended to demean or insult the national flag; the same had happened out of sheer ignorance of the Flag Code on our part and we sincerely regretted that it has hurt the sentiments of our fellow citizens,” the Kuki organisation said.
The marches in Churachandpur was criticised on social media over the alleged disrespect shown to the national flag. In one of the videos of the event, the national flag is seen installed at an angle, with the stick jutting out quite a bit, giving it the appearance of a flag flown in half-mast.
In another video, a guerilla uniformed man in a group of marchers, instead of holding the national flag upright as mandated by the Flag Code of India, 2002, is seen dipping it to the side when he approaches some people standing on a podium, which is a violation of the law that says, “The flag shall not be dipped in salute to any person or thing”.
The optics of the Churachandpur event that indicated the participation of ‘armed’ men, however, sparked a massive controversy in Manipur amid a tensed environment after the ethnic clashes that lasted three months. Sporadic fights continue to be reported every day.
Kuki civil society groups said the assault rifles carried by the parade participants were not real.
Over 180 have died since ethnic violence between the hill-majority Kukis and the valley-majority Meiteis broke out on May 3 over the Meiteis’ demand for Scheduled Tribes (ST) status. Thousands have been internally displaced and are living in relief camps.