A man of Indian origin, entitled with permanent residency of Singapore, is facing police probe for posting a picture on social media that was criticized for being disrespectful to the Singaporean flag.
Avijit Das Patnaik, an employee of the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), deleted his post on Facebook after it sparked outrage on the social media platform. He has also since deleted his social media accounts and his LinkedIn profile, theindependent.sg reported.
The picture showed a black-colored T-shirt with a graphic of the Singaporean flag being ripped apart to reveal the Indian flag underneath. Above the picture were the words, “Phir bhi dil hai… I love you,” as a caption, based on the Bollywood film title, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.
Patnaik posted the controversial photo in a Facebook group, Singapore Indians & Expats, on Aug. 14, a day before India’s 72nd Independence Day. The post, shared in a group of 11,000 members, soon went viral on the social media, inviting condemnation in Singapore.
Patnaik is under police investigation for defacing the national flag of Singapore, according to local media reports. Under the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act, a person who disrespects the country’s national flag faces a fine of up to S$1,000.
After the controversy erupted, Patnaik told the Strait Times that the image was not designed by him, and it is, in fact, already available on various social media platforms. He added that his intention was to show his love for India and that he never wanted to cause an offense to Singapore.
“I love Singapore deeply and am always singing praises about this country, so my intention was never to cause so much grievance. I just felt that the image represented that deep inside, the heart also beats for our motherland,” he said.
The post, however, received disapproval from many persons of Indian origin on the same Facebook group page.
“Bad move…expressing his patriotism should not come at expense of insulting Singaporean flag. This is unacceptable,” Anoop Dwivedi commented.
Patnaik’s employer, DBS, was also targeted due to his behavior, with people seeking strict action against him.
The company responded by saying that DBS has counselled him and that he is “deeply sorry for the distress caused.”