Why didn't Hamid Ansari salute the flag on Republic Day? Because he didn't have to

"Why didn't Hamid Ansari salute the national flag?" Even as the country celebrated its 66th republic Day, this seemed to be top most on the minds of the self-proclaimed defenders of patriotism, in a disturbing incident of religious stereotyping that is absolutely against everything republic day stands for.



Social media went into a tizzy yesterday, criticising the vice president by posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook showing that Ansari did not salute the national flag during the national anthem.

Home minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj didn't salute the flag either, but their patriotism was not questioned.

"Jihadi sympathiser", "anti-India", "traitor", were among  the hate tweets that were hurled at the vice president of India. Some even demanded that Ansari be impeached, and the more outraged ones advised him to join the ISIS.

It's shame for us Our vice president Mr. Ansari not salute at flag hosting Plz spread dis tweet. pic.twitter.com/by88KQBUka

But well, Twitter was wrong. Ansari was not required to salute as per the protocols.

According to Section VI of the Flag Code of India, "During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag, or when the flag is passing in a parade or in a review, all persons present should face the Flag and stand at attention. Those present in uniform should render the appropriate salute".

So, except for the President of the country, no one is required to salute. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, vice president Ansari, US President Barack Obama, defence minister Manohar Parrikar were not in uniform and were therefore not required to salute the flag.

The tweets were so disturbing that Ansari's office issued a statement clarifying why it wasn't wrong not to salute.

"As per the protocol, when the national anthem is played, the Principal Dignitary and persons in uniform take the salute. Those in civil dress stand in attention. "During the Republic Day Parade, the President of India, as Supreme Commander, takes the salute. As per protocol, the Vice President is required to stand in attention," Gurdeep Sappal, Joint Secretary and OSD to the Vice President, said in a statement.

"When the Vice President is the Principal Dignitory, he salutes during the national anthem, wearing headgear, as done at NCC camp this year," Sappal added.

What is disturbing is, why would Ansari need to prove his patriotism? Just because he is a Muslim?

Outrage about Hamid Ansari is a bit silly. Saluting national flag is not mandatory. You stand up during the anthem, and he was doing that

In fact, as many on social media pointed out, our earlier Prime Ministers also did not salute the flag during the Republic Day celebrations and that includes BJP's Atal Vihari Vajpayee.

But of course, he wasn't required to prove his patriotism.

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Updated Date: Jan 28, 2015 09:19:07 IST

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