At least twice a year, our nationalistic sentiments are at an all-time high. The Republic Day and Independence day are two auspicious occasions when no one shies away from making their love for the country public.  

So, on the morning of this Independence day, when a photograph of a flood-hit school in Assam came out, our chests filled with pride to see the teachers and students standing in knee-deep flood waters saluting the tricolour. 

The photograph was shared thousands of times and the teachers and the little kids were hailed as heroes.  

The flood, which is said to be the worst in the past 13 years, has affected 25 out of 32 districts of Assam. With 8 rivers flowing above the danger level, around 33.3 lakh people in 3,186 villages and other localities have been affected. The flood has claimed 39 lives and thousands of families have been displaced.  

This picture is of a school in Dhubri, one of the worst-hit districts, where over 8.5 lakh people have been affected. A day before Independence day, the flood water had already inundated five classrooms of the school. The school headmaster, along with the teachers, weren’t sure how they were going to organise this year’s I-Day ceremony. 

Amidst this natural calamity, school headmaster Tazem Sikdar took three assistant teachers, Mizanur Rahman, Nripen Rabha and Joydev Roy, along with him. They also selected two Class-3 students, who knew swimming, to go ahead with the ceremony. And in a courageous display of nationalism, they hoisted the tricolour while other students and teachers participated in the ceremony from a distance, on the road nearby.

The picture was posted by Mizanur Rahman, an assistant teacher at Naskara Lower Primary School, in Assam’s Dhubri district. 

School headmaster told The Telegraph:

We hoisted the flag, sang Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram while the rest of the students followed us from the road. In my 22 years of service, this is the first time we faced flood on Independence Day.

Everyone hailed the three kids and the teacher saluting the national flag for ditching their comforts for the love of the country, as they stood in the knee-deep flood waters. But no one knows the reality behind the picture. 

A report by The Telegraph reveals that according to a state government rule, schools must keep a record of every event it organizes through photographs. And the coordinator, a government official who monitors the school, sends the pictures to the block officer, who is supposed to forward them to the education department in Dispur, Guwahati.

So basically, the photograph had to be clicked as proof that the authorities followed the rules DESPITE the terrible flood, to be sent to Amir Hamza, the cluster resource centre co-ordinator who monitors around 11 schools.

Not just this, Mizanur Rahman himself lost his 18-year-old cousin, Rashidul Islam, who drowned in Fakirganj a few hours after the flag-hoisting.

Everyone had already been criticizing the central government’s circular instructing schools and educational institutions to conduct quiz contests, lectures and debates and submit the supporting video recordings of the celebrations to the office of Sarva Shiksha Mission (SSM) by August 31, 2017.

Not just this, a week before Independence day, a UP government circular had asked the madrassas to celebrate Independence Day functions and submit video footage to minority welfare officers in all districts as a proof.   

What will we achieve with this kind of forced nationalism?