Hyderabad: Daily protest rallies against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) have triggered an unprecedented demand for national flags, leading to tricolour shortage ahead of the Republic Day.
Flag makers estimate that more than seven lakh flags were sold for 'Million March' in Hyderabad and Friday's 'Tiranga Rally'.
Thousands carrying national flags had poured out on to the streets on January 4 for the 'Million March' organised by Joint Action Committee (JAC), comprising 40 different groups demanding revocation of CAA and withdrawal of proposals for National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The retailers again ran out of the stock due to huge demand for flags for Friday's 'Tiranga Rally' organised by United Muslim Action Committee, headed by All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
With more protests planned in the coming days, the flag manufacturers here are working overtime to meet the increasing demand. The surge in demand is not just from Hyderabad but also from other districts of Telangana and other states.
"I have never such a demand for the tricolour in my life," Shaik Osman of SK Group, a leading manufacturer of election material and national flags told IANS.
We had readied stocks for the Republic Day but the entire stocks were sold out. Now, we are stepping up production to meet the demand," he said.
Osman's company supplies tricolour to retailers in Hyderabad, Delhi and other cities.
"We usually receive orders for one lakh flags for January 26 but this time we have already supplied more than five lakh flags and there are many more orders on hand," he said.
Ahead of Independence Day and Republic Day, the manufacturers get orders in thousands for flags made of cloth but since the last week of December when the anti-CAA protests broke out, the requirement has gone up in lakhs.
According to another flag manufacturer ARC Flag Shop, more than 10 lakh flags have been sold in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh since last month.
The manufacturers say they are struggling to meet the orders at short notice. They point out that machines are used only for printing while cloth cutting, stitching and packing all have to be done manually. They outsource stitching and packing to workers working from home and majority of them are women.
The organisers of rallies and other protest marches are placing orders for the flags, which are commonly available in the sizes of 20x30 inch, 30x45 inch and 40x60 inch.
Cashing on the massive demand, retailers have jacked up the prices. A 30x45 flag is normally sold for Rs 30 but the same is now being sold for Rs 50.
However, this did not deter people from buying the flags to participate in the protests. Retailers and bulk manufacturers are also getting big orders from the districts, where huge rallies are being organised.
Retailers say people are buying flags to hoist them atop their houses following a call by the AIMIM president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi as part of the anti-CAA campaign.
With United Muslim Action Committee planning another major protest at historic Charminar on January 25, the demand is likely to go up further.
At this public meeting, Owaisi will unfurl the national flag at midnight to make it the first flag hoisting for the Republic Day. SK Group is preparing the tricolour for this special occasion.