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Tharoor denies disrespect to national anthem

Former UN under secretary general Shashi Tharoor strongly refuted the charge that he had shown disrespect to the national anthem during an event in Kochi last month.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2009 16:20 IST

Former UN under secretary general Shashi Tharoor on Saturday strongly refuted the charge that he had shown disrespect to the national anthem during an event in Kochi last month, saying he was pained at the reports and "no one has ever doubted my patriotism".

Tharoor's denial came even as Kerala-based rights group, State Human Rights Protection Centre, which had levelled the allegation last week, filed a complaint against him in a city court on Saturday.

In its petition filed through advocate John K George, the rights group alleged that Tharoor had interrupted the singing of the national anthem during a function organised by the Federal Bank in memory of its founder late KP Hormis in Le Meridian Hotel at Kochi Dec 16.

According to the petition, Tharoor also directed the audience to stand the way people do in the US while singing the anthem "Star Spangled Banner", with right palm placed on the heart.

"Tharoor's act is in violation of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971," the group said in its petition.

However, Tharoor stoutly maintained that he had shown no disrespect to the national anthem.

Terming the media reports as as baseless, Tharoor in a statement said: "A news story alleges that I showed disrespect to the national anthem by interrupting its singing for about 10 seconds and urging the gathering to stand in the US style while singing the national anthem. The allegation is totally false. There was no interruption."

"Before the anthem was sung and while the singers were walking up to the mike, I said that in the wake of the Mumbai horrors, the national anthem had a special place in all our hearts. I was therefore going to place my hand on my heart while the anthem was sung, and anyone who felt like doing so was welcome to do so (I did not request them all to do it). Everyone did. There was no disrespect, only deep emotion," the statement said.

"It is deeply dismaying that some elements in the media have given such damaging circulation to motivated lies without first checking to see if the story was true. I have written and served on the world stage for nearly three decades and no one has ever doubted my patriotism. At no point in my life have I ever interrupted the singing of the national anthem or shown disrespect to any national symbol," he said.