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SOURCE: NEWS18

A mid a sea of unruly members of a pro-Donald Trump mob waving American confederate flags and flags supporting the US President in the attack on the US Capitol Hill, there was the presence of one that stood out: a man waving the Indian tricolour.

The man has been identified as Vincent Xavier Palathingal, a resident of Virginia, who traces his roots to Kochi, Kerala, and had earlier been picked by Trump to be member President’s Export Council.

News18 caught up with the 54-year-old, who said he was not part of the violence that followed when the mob breached the Capitol Hill, leading to the deaths of five persons. He claimed he was there only for a “peaceful protest” against “election fraud” – a claim that Trump has been pushing since his defeat in November, but has been thrown out of US courts over lack of any evidence.

Asked why he was holding the Indian flag during the protests on January 6, Vincent said it was to show that the Trump supporters were not racists, and the protest rally was not a racist movement. “I would not be able to hold an Indian flag and walk around if it was a racist movement,” he told News18.

He said there were about 10 Indians in the group of Trump loyalists, and five of them were from Kerala.

“Whenever I have been at a Trump rally, I’ve seen people of Vietnamese, Korean, even Pakistani origin, carrying their flags. This is also to show that such rallies are not a racist movement,” he added.

The entrepreneur, who spent 25 years in India before moving to the US, also tried to downplay the scale of the violence witnessed at the Capitol Hill, the seat of the American government, in what were unprecedented scenes.

He claimed that out of the million people gathered outside the Congress to protest, only “about 10-15 daring people, scaled the walls like ‘Spider Man’ and created violence… Eventually the violence created by about 50 people destroyed the purpose of our rally.”

He also pushed the unfounded theory that there were members of the loose-knit left-wing group Antifa among those who stormed the US Capitol, the implication being that they were masquerading as Trump supporters.

“They appear to be trained, professional thugs. They were either from our side or from the other side who tried to infiltrate our side.

“There isn’t clarity about their identity. However, if you see the way they climbed the walls, etc. it appears that they were trained very well. Only people in the military can do it. They appear to be Antifa, BLM (Black Lives Matter) thugs who support the Democratic Party who infiltrated into our side. They were the ones who opened the door, it was not the police…” he claimed.

The BBC has reported that there has been no evidence of any Antifa member among the mob, but photos of the attack showed individuals associated with a range of extreme and far-right groups and supporters of fringe online conspiracy theories that have been seen at pro-Trump rallies before.

But Vincent claimed that it was these “50-odd people who created the ruckus”, while the Trump loyalists were peacefully chanting slogans and singing the national anthem.