Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh), Feb 5 | The wife and brother of a farmer, who went missing and was later found dead in Delhi, have been booked by the Uttar Pradesh Police on charges of insulting the national flag.
The farmer, Balvinder Singh, of the Bhopatpur village, had left for the Ghazipur border on January 23. A week later, on February 1, his family got a call from Delhi Police saying he had died in a road accident.
The next day, they were handed over his body after autopsy at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital in Delhi.
The last rites were performed at his village Wednesday and his body was draped in the Tricolor.
Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, SHO of Seramau North police station, said, “His wife Jasveer Kaur, brother Gurvinder Singh and an unidentified person have been booked under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.”
The section under which they have been charged says, “Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written, or by acts) the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”
Section 4(d) adds that ‘disrespect” includes ‘using the Indian National Flag as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in state funerals or armed forces or other paramilitary forces funerals.’
Gurvinder said that there was a reason they placed the Tricolour on Balvinder’s body. “We believe farmers are fighting for the country, like soldiers at the border. Balvinder was a martyr for the farmers’ cause. A funeral is a sacred ritual. It was a patriotic gesture,” he said.
Religious and farmer representatives, meanwhile, extended their support to the grieving family.
“I condemn the police action and demand that the UP government ask the Pilibhit police to withdraw the FIR. If the Tricolour was placed on the body of a protesting farmer, it symbolised the patriotism of farmers, not an insult to national honour,” said a local Sikh leader.
Vice president of RLD’s Uttar Pradesh unit Manjit Singh Sandhu, said, “FIRs are being used to suppress the voice of farmers. There will be a massive agitation on the streets if the FIR is not withdrawn. The family did nothing to insult the Tricolour.”
After getting his body, Balvinder’s family had questioned the manner in which he had died. His younger brother Virendra Singh had said, “He had multiple injuries on his face. The body should have had injuries and fractures in other parts if he had been mowed down by a speeding heavy vehicle, as claimed by the police.”