The flag is ours! Azadi bhi!

Students, journalists, writers, poets in jail on trumped up, false charges

Three potent symbols  – the Azadi slogan, the Constitution and the National Flag – have formed the core of the battle against Hindu Rashtra and capitalist expropriation over the last decade.

The Tiranga at a massive anti CAA protest

And just as the Hindu supremacists have tried and continue trying, to appropriate BR Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose, all of whom stood for democracy, socialism, social justice, equality and freedom – values anathema to the de facto Hindu Rashtra in which we live and which we  daily battle – they are now trying to appropriate and weaponize both the flag and the word azadi.

All over the country, threatening circulars have been issued by both government and private institutions, demanding “compliance” with attendance at Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, employees and students being informed that their absence will be “noted” by the “Competent Authority.”

The use of Azadi instead of Swatantrata in the florid government slogan strikingly reflects two things – first, the RSS agenda of  assimilating Urdu into the fold of Hindu Rashtra even as the use of Urdu in practice is delegitimized and attacked by Hindu supremacist forces. As this report from BBC notes:

Last year, clothing retailer Fabindia was forced to withdraw an advert whose campaign title was in Urdu after protests from ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.

In the past, politicians elected to state assemblies have been barred from taking oath in Urdu; artists have been stopped from painting Urdu graffiti; and cities and neighbourhoods have been renamed. Petitions have been filed seeking the removal of Urdu words from school textbooks.

Second, the brazen attempt to appropriate the electrifying azadi slogan that has echoed throughout the country – declaring freedom from caste and class oppression, from manuvaad, from patriarchy.  Flourishing the national flag, students in their thousands all over the country have braved arrests and police beatings to protest privatization of education, fee hikes, sexual harassment on campuses, and the larger agenda of transformation of the Republic of India into Hindu Rashtra.

The Tiranga at JNU campus the day the President of the Students’ Union returned from jail, 2016

The Uttarakhand BJP Chief demanded photographs of homes without the national flag.  Who will refuse to obey the Prime Minister’s decree and bow to the national flag, he asked. “We know who they are.”

Indeed we do.

The RSS has since its inception refused to accept the tricolour and flown only the saffron RSS flag. Now that the tiranga has become such a powerful image of protest against RSS driven policies, it has come to realize that appropriation and weaponization is the way to go.

The Bhim Army chief, portrait of Ambedkar and the tricolour at an anti CAA protest in Jama Masjid

And in fact it is precisely the tiranga in the homes and hands of anti CAA protesters, whom the Prime Minister recognized by their clothes, that has shaken the RSS into finally reluctantly, accepting the flag themselves.

The national flag was hosted at the Shaheen Bagh protest site against CAA on Republic Day 2020

Meanwhile all over the tribal belt of Central India, parts of the Constitution are inscribed on giant stones to protest and resist takeover of Adivasi lands by government to hand over to corporates. The crime invoked against its arrested leaders is sedition – the very Constitution is seditious in Hindu Rashtra.

And the indomitable farmers forced the government to roll back the farm  laws that would have handed over agriculture to corporates.

And yes, there it is – the tiranga.

Sab hamara hai – tiranga bhi, samvidhan bhi, azadi bhi.

Kisi ke baap ka hindustan thodi hai!

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