Palakkad collector who stopped Mohan Bhagwat from hoisting tricolour transferred; CM calls it 'routine exercise'

Thiruvananthapuram: The Palakkad collector, whose orders were defied by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat by hoisting the national flag at an aided school, has been transferred with the chief minister on Thursday maintaining it was a routine exercise.

The collector's orders were apparently based on the guidelines which, among other things, stipulates that only the school principal or elected representatives could hoist the national flag in the school.

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

Bhagwat had, however, gone ahead with hoisting the flag at the government aided school in Palakkad district on Independence day, triggering a controversy.

Replying to a submission in this regard in the state assembly, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed it as a routine transfer.

In a minor reshuffle of IAS officers, the Kerala government on Wednesday shuffled five district collectors.

Vijayan said the decision to transfer the collectors, including P Marykutty, Palakkad Collector, had been taken early this week itself.

But it had been kept on hold as the Independence Day celebrations were round the corner, he said.

Taking up the issue, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala sought to know if the Palakkad collector was transferred for giving a report on the matter.

He sought a clarification from the chief minister on the issue.

Vijayan said the chief secretary and general education director had issued two separate guidelines with regard to the procedures to be followed during Independence Day flag hoisting ceremony.

The guidelines which, among other things, stipulates that the school principal or elected representatives have to hoist the national flag, were violated by the Karnagi Amman aided school, he said.

The guidelines had been brought to the notice of the school authorities by the district collector on 14 August night.

However, the school authorities had gone ahead with their scheduled programme of Bhagwat unfurling the tri-colour.

Vijayan said legal opinion had been sought for taking further steps on the hoisting of the national flag by Bhagwat allegedly defying an official order.

The district collector and education additional director conducted an inquiry into the matter and submitted a report.

"As per the report, Vande Mataram was recited during the Independence day function at the Karnagi Amman School, in which Bhagwat participated. The national anthem was sung later when somebody pointed it out," he said.

It was also found in the inquiry that the school principal had also hoisted the national flag after Bhagwat's function there, he said.

The flag was hoisted in two locations at the school premises, Vijayan said adding that it was done violating the government directive.

"We have sought more legal opinion on the matter.Further steps will be taken based on that," he said.

While raising the submission, Ramesh Chennithala said Bhagwat had hoisted the flag violating the Flag Code.

"As per the code, the principal or a people's representative should be the one to hoist the national flag in government and aided schools in such an occasion," he said.

Chennithala alleged that the national anthem was played during the function only later.

Bhagwat was in the southern state to take part in a two-day meeting of the Sangh which began on 14 August.

Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 16:25 PM

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