Fifteen villagers in Nizamabad district were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly heckling a college principal because he unfurled the national flag on Independence Day with his shoes on. On Tuesday morning, when Mohammed Yaquinuddin, the principal of Government Junior College at Ailapur village, stepped up to hoist the flag on the college campus, the sarpanch and several villagers asked him to remove his shoes.
The principal told them there was no such rule and that even armed forces officers unfurl the national flag while wearing shoes. He went ahead and hoisted the flag. However, as soon as the national anthem was over, a group of 15 youths started heckling Yaquinuddin, shouting “principal down down” and forced him out of the college gate.
The villagers told Yaquinuddin that while there may be no rule to remove shoes, it was a practice in the village and neighbouring areas to remove footwear before any auspicious event.
Yaquinuddin apologised and said he was unaware of the local customs and made peace with the villagers. A video of the incident which was shared on social media was held up by several Muslim organisations which urged him to lodge a police complaint.
“Principal Yaquinuddin lodged the complaint at Nandipet police station at 7 am on Wednesday. Based on his complaint we have arrested 15 youths of a local group called Seva Youth, comprising TRS, ABVP and Congress activists,” said Sub-Inspector of Nandipet Police Station, A Jana Reddy, who is the investigation officer.
Armoor area Circle Inspector Narasimha Swami, who is supervising the investigation, said: “They (the villagers) formed a chain around him and forced him out of the college campus gate while shouting,’’ Swami said.