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Tharoor ‘disrespects’ national anthem
Published on 13 Jan. 2009 12:15 AM IST
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Former UN under-secretary general Shashi Tharoor showed disrespect to India’s national anthem by interrupting when it was being sung at an event in Kerala last month, a rights group alleged Monday and said it would move court against him. “Tharoor insulted our national anthem in the presence of the district collector and some senior civil service officials at a function at a star hotel in Kochi Dec 16,” said Joy Kaitharam, general secretary of the State Human Rights Protection Centre. “We are going to file a case against Tharoor for interrupting the national anthem for 10 seconds when it was being sung and urging about 2,000-odd audience to stand in ‘the US style’,” Kaitharam told IANS by telephone from Kochi. The alleged incident happened at the end of a lecture organised by Federal Bank in the memory of its former chairman Hormis Tharakan at Le Meridian Hotel. “After interrupting the national anthem, Tharoor urged the audience not to stand in attention like the traditional Indian style as it is an imitation of the British style and asked them to place their hand on chest and look upward the way Americans do when they sing the Star Spangled Banner,” Kaitharam said. Ernakulam District Collector M. Beena and at least eight senior officials had attended the programme, he said. While Tharoor could not be contacted for his comments, B.S. Jacob, an aide of the former diplomat, said: “Tharoor never insulted the national anthem. He cannot do it. He only told the audience that when we sing our national anthem, we should do so from the bottom of the heart. So, he requested them to place their hand on the chest so that one can feel it.” But 56-year-old Kaitharam, whose organisation has fought several high-profile legal battles on rights issues, said: “It is an insult to our country, people and national pride. We will file a complaint with the magisterial court or the Panangad police station in a day or two.” He said the police had failed to take action even after a local newspaper reported the incident Dec 17. “Tharoor should be given maximum punishment for insulting the national anthem,” Kaitharam said. Tharoor served as UN under-secretary general for communications and public information between June 2002 and February 2007, during the term of then secretary general Kofi Annan. He is an author and columnist and hails from Kerala. Political circles say he is likely to be a Congress party candidate from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency for the Lok Sabha elections.

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