Fact check: Has Indian govt directed ration shops to forcefully sell national flags?
New Delhi, Aug 10: A video of people alleging that they were being forced to buy national flags by ration shops in Haryana as a condition to avail the ration went viral on Wednesday.
The incident was reported in Himda village, Karnal district, Haryana, as a local ration distributor refused to give beneficiaries their due for this month until they buy national flags that costs Rs 20.
In the viral clip shared by BJP MP Varun Gandhi alleged that ration card holders were being forced to buy the national flag, and said it will be unfortunate if celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Independence becomes a burden on the poor. It is "shameful" to extract the price of 'Tiranga', which lives in the heart of every Indian, by snatching the poor's morsel of food, he said in a tweet in Hindi.
The Pilibhit MP posted a video purportedly showing some ration card holders complaining about being forced to pay Rs 20 to buy the flag. "It will be unfortunate if the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Independence becomes a burden on the poor. Ration card holders are being forced to buy Tiranga or denied a share of grains they are entitled to," he said.
आजादी की 75वीं वर्षगाँठ का उत्सव गरीबों पर ही बोझ बन जाए तो दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण होगा।— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) August 10, 2022
राशनकार्ड धारकों को या तिरंगा खरीदने पर मजबूर किया जा रहा है या उसके बदले उनके हिस्से का राशन काटा जा रहा है।
हर भारतीय के हृदय में बसने वाले तिरंगे की कीमत गरीब का निवाला छीन कर वसूलना शर्मनाक है। pic.twitter.com/pYKZCfGaCV
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi too criticised it, saying "Nationalism can never be sold. It is shameful that while giving ration, poor are being asked to cough up Rs 20 for the tricolour," Gandhi alleged.
"Along with the tricolour, the BJP government is also attacking the self-respect of the poor of our country," the former Congress chief said.
The ration shop owner reportedly admitted that he was selling flags for Rs 20 as per the government's order. "I have made it clear that the flag will cost Rs 20 as there are orders from the government. We have to deposit the money (charged in lieu of the flags). We won't give rations to those who will not buy a flag at the rate of Rs 20. The (department) inspector has issued directions that (purchase) of the flag is mandatory for those who are taking ration. We have to follow the orders of the government," The Indian Express quoted him as saying.
This triggered massive criticism from people on social media sites. Particularly, people targeted the central government, which has urged people to hoist or display the national flag from their homes during August 13-15 as part of its 'Har Ghar Tiranga' programme.
The Press Information Bureau, which counters misinformation, has clarified that the Centre has not issued such instruction. "An errant ration shop has been suspended for violating orders of the Govt and misrepresenting facts," it tweeted.
Claim:As per the instructions of Government of India,the poor are being forced to buy the flag forcibly to buy ration#PIBFactCheck:— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) August 10, 2022
▶️No such instruction has been given by GOI
▶️An errant ration shop has been suspended for violating orders of the Govt and misrepresenting facts pic.twitter.com/iNxxJmPREJ
In fact, the authorities in Haryana have suspended the licence of the ration depot holder for forcing people to buy national flags.
"We're giving Tiranga to people who are willing to buy it, at Rs 20 through PDS shops. We came to know a depot holder made ration beneficiaries forcefully purchase flags. Admin initiated stringent action against him & his license was suspended," ANI quoted Anish Yadav, Dy Commissioner, Karnal, in a tweet.
Government directed Ration Shops not to give ration if beneficiaries refuse to buy National Flags.
No such instruction has been issued by government.