In the incident of violent protests at the United States Capitol a day ago, a lone Indian flag was seen amid a sea of American Star-Spranged Banners and the typical "Make America Great Again" flags seen at Trump rallies.
The footage, as well as images, of the Indian flag, went viral on social media and attracted much controversy, with several politicos across the line, here at home, publicly condemning the presence of the tricolour at the protest held over internal affairs in the United States.
A day later, the Indian-American Republican political activist responsible for flying the flag at the rally in Washington DC, has come forth. Vinson Palathingal, also known as Vincent Xavier, a Keralite Christian by ethnicity, tweeted on Thursday pictures of the flags India, South Korea and Iran at the protest.
The Iranian flag was from the pre-Islamic revolution era.
His tweet said: "American patriots - Vietnamese, Indian, Korean & Iranian origins, & from so many other nations & races, who believe massive voter fraud has happened joined rally yesterday in solidarity with Trump. Peaceful protestors who were exercising our rights."
On his Facebook page, Xavier shared a now-deleted post explaining why he was at the spot.
Xavier seems to believe in the now-debunked conspiracy theory that there had been a "largescale voter fraud" against Donald Trump in the recently conducted US presidential polls. Although he said that he had gone to the Capitol to protest against the "election fraud", he did not condone the "violence" that resulted.
"Trump rallies are always a lot of fun," Xavier's Facebook post read. He went on to explain how "50 or so lawless" people engaging in acts of vandalism and arson should not be a reason to "throw the million-plus peaceful protestors under the bus".
It is to be noted that most of his claims are disputed. Verified news outlets have confirmed that the crowd at the Capitol numbered in the thousands, not "50 or so", and while President Trump has been vocal about the alleged "election fraud" against him, US officials have found no evidence regarding the same.
In an apparent embarrassment for Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who criticised the presence of the tricolour at the protest, Xavier also seems to be close to the veteran Parliamentarian of the grand old party.
A Malayali news outlet, Manorama News, later interviewed Xavier, where the latter was said to have been one of the Indian-Americans recommended by the Trump administration to be a part of the President's Export Council.
According to the news portal, Xavier hails from Chambakkara near Vytila in Kerala's Kochi.
Many people who commented on the post criticised him for associating India and Indians with a protest that turned violent. One of the comments read: "It is your right to protest at Trump Rallies, You have no right to carry an Indian flag at Stop the Steal Trump rally which ended in Storming the US Capitol."
The Indian flag first surfaced in a video posted by the Alejandro Alvarez, the digital editor of the Washington news radio station WTOP and was only seen among the crowd standing back from the Capitol on the street while much further ahead some people were climbing on the building's steps.
An Indian-American Attitudes Survey (IAAS) poll published in October 2020 showed that 22 per cent of registered voters from the community planned to vote for Trump, while 72 per cent were for Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden.
Going by the IAAS poll, the backing for Trump had increased by 6 per cent compared to his support level shown in the 2016 Post-Election National Asian American Survey.
(With inputs from agencies)