Singapore Police Force issues stiff warning against former DBS employee over image depicting torn Singapore flag

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has issued a stern warning against a former DBS employee who had posted an illustration of a T-shirt with the Singapore flag being torn with the Indian flag underneath online.

Responding to queries regarding Avijit Das Patnaik’s case on Tuesday (23 Oct), the police announced: “Following investigations, the police, in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, has administered a stern warning.”

The warning was issued on 3 Oct, a couple of months after a police report was lodged against Mr Patnaik, a Singapore permanent resident of nine years, regarding the Facebook post.

He had posted the image on a page called Singapore Indians and Expats on the eve of India’s Independence Day, which falls on 15 Aug. It was later taken down after he had received backlash from netizens.

The Hindi words “Phir bhi dil hai…”, which roughly translates to “Still my heart is…”, were included in Mr Patnaik’s post on 14 Aug.

Mr Patnaik has since defended himself by stating that he did not create the image, and that he only shared it, especially considering the fact that it was a widely circulated image, adding that he did not mean to offend Singaporeans as he loves Singapore “deeply” and is “always singing praises about” Singapore.

Mr Patnaik was investigated under the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, which state that “no person shall treat the flag with disrespect.”

On 28 Aug, DBS announced via Facebook that Mr Patnaik is “no longer with the bank” as of 24 Aug.

The announcement was made 10 days after DBS explained via Facebook that Mr Patnaik had posted the image because he “wanted to show that even as he’s in Singapore, he remains Indian at heart,” and that “upon realising the graphic was offensive, he took it down immediately.”

Netizens applauded DBS’s move.

Mr Patnaik, who lives here with his wife and two young children, remains unemployed after the incident and is currently looking for a new job, according to Channel NewsAsia.