Chandigarh: TheTri-colour which is unfurled at the Red Fort on August 15 and on January 26 is made at Malerkotla by women Muslim weavers. And, so are thousands of other flags ordered by various state governments and official institutions, particularly the Indian Army. But after the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign of the Centre, there has been an order of close to 50 lakh flags from across the country. And, this Muslim-dominated town known for its weavers, is dispatching tens of thousands of ‘Tirangas’ every day.
Shahbaz Rana, the owner of Rana Enterprises and Rana military Store said, “We are in this business ever since India became a Republic. This manufacturing unit was set up by my grandfather Sadiq Rana in 1950. Sadiq had the option of migrating to Pakistan during the turmoil of Partition. But like lakhs of other Muslims from Malerkotla, he too chose to stay back.
The special relationship of Malerkotla with the Sikhs is that the Nawab of Malerkotla Sher Mohammad Khan vehemently protested at the bricking alive of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons – Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh. Ever since then, the secular credentials of the Muslim community of Malerkotla are unquestionable.
After Sadiq, my father Mohammad Ishfaq Rana took over the business. And now, we are at the helm, I and my brother Imran Rana.” Shahbaaz added, “For us, the making of a Tri-colour is a spiritual experience.”
The women weavers gather in the morning, remove their shoes, perch the flag so that it doesn’t touch anyone’s feet and then it is woven, bleached and dyed, the Ashoka chakra is printed, stitched and toggled.
The trio of Farzana, Sumaina Begum and Sultana make close to 500 flags a day. “We work from 10:00 am to almost 9:00 pm ever since the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign picked up,” said Farzana adding, “There are orders from both — the government institutions and private orders as well, and the daily orders are running into tens of thousands. Leading up to Independence Day we have our hands full.”
Qamil Mohammad who is a veteran at flag weaving said, ”The orders this time around are unprecedented. We are at it day and night. Earlier, there were only official orders which wouldn’t exceed a few thousand flags to maybe tens of thousands. But this year, we have already delivered ten of lakhs of them already.” Another worker at the Rana Military Store is Asif Mohmmad who admitted, “We never expected such huge orders. Probably for the first time ever there are such huge orders for the national flag.”
Owner of the Rana Military Store, Rana, said, “Ever since the flag code has changed there have been more orders. Earlier, there were restrictions such as there had to be proper lighting to illuminate the flag, it should be taken down immediately in case the weather conditions go rough. But the change has encouraged a lot of people to buy them.”