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Flag-hoist, glued to cell

- I-day celebration row

Chennai, Aug. 16: Indians are known to carry out myriad daily tasks with their mobile phones sandwiched between a raised shoulder and an ear: drive, cross streets, attend college classes, perhaps exchange marriage vows.

C.V. Ilango, however, set a new standard yesterday by hoisting the Tricolour at an Independence Day event while glued to his mobile.

In his capacity as municipal chairman of Pammal, a Chennai suburb, Ilango had been invited to do the I-Day honours at the local government primary school.

He got off his official car holding his handset against his ear and walked briskly to the flagpole, eyewitnesses said. He then pressed the phone against his left ear with his shoulder, freeing his hands.

The AIADMK functionary went on talking as he manipulated the ropes to hoist the national flag.

Job over, Ilango grabbed the phone with his left hand and, without saluting the flag or greeting the assembled civic staff, schoolteachers and pupils, walked back to his car and climbed in — never once interrupting his phone conversation.

It was all over within seconds, eyewitnesses said. The entire assembly just stood and watched dumbfounded.

“He need not have acknowledged our presence, but is this the way to treat one’s national flag and that too on Independence Day? We hope the government and the AIADMK take action against him,” a furious teacher said.

“He hardly spent a minute at the venue,” an official of the municipality said.

Ilango denied disrespecting the flag. “Since I was busy attending to an important call, I asked the school principal to hoist the flag. I only helped untangle the nylon rope,” he claimed.

But the principal and several civic employees insisted that it was Ilango who had hoisted the flag.

Traffic K. Ramaswamy, a civil activist, said he would file a police complaint against the municipal chairman, seeking action under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.