A photograph of a group of women seated onstage in front of a Punjabi banner has been shared with the text, “Women power on the Kisan stage – When did the spirited women of Punjab start wearing burqas?” The image has been shared to allude a ‘Muslim angle’ to the ongoing farmers’ protests. Twitter user ‘Tinku’ posted the image writing, “These are the ones who will not show their documents.” Hashtags like #Khalistan and #Khalistani were used in the post. (Archive link)
— Tinku (@Tinku59733052) January 15, 2021
Another Twitter user, @ThePushpendra_, tweeted this picture and wrote, “What are these Muslim women doing at the farmers’ protests? What kind of farming do they do?” (Archive link)
किसान आंदोलन में ये आपाएं क्या कर रही हैं? कौन सी खेती करती हैं ये? pic.twitter.com/FNVQqSNOdv
— Pushpendra Kulshreshtha (@ThePushpendra_) January 16, 2021
A website called India Viral shared the picture in one of its articles, claiming that the farmers’ movement has been taken over by ‘Islamists’ and others who follow the faith. It also questions whether those wearing the burqas are actually women. The article makes every effort to discredit the movement. (Archive link)
Alt News performed a keyword search on Facebook which led us to a post by a page called ‘Indias Muslims’ dated January 14. According to the post, the Muslim community had participated in demonstrations at the Tikri border. The same stage seen in the viral photo appears in the pictures accompanying this post.
“Muslim Community Arrived at Tikkri Border to Participate in Protest. We are United.”
Via Bharatiya Kisan Union Ughran
Furthermore, we also found some images resembling the photo in question on the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Facebook page. Here, people from the Muslim community are seen reading prayers and addressing the crowd.
The BKU shared these images on its Twitter handle as well. The accompanying tweet reads, “Muslim women from Punjab’s Malerkotla participated in the ongoing demonstrations at the Tikri border”. They have also been uploaded on BKU’s Instagram page.
The Muslim community came to Tikri Border in support of the farmers
From Malerkotla (Punjab) a group of Muslim women reached Tikri border. pic.twitter.com/RXkw1nm9Pz
— BKU_EKTA_UGRAHAN (@Bkuektaugrahan) January 14, 2021
A January 13 report in The Times of India quoted Dr. Nasir Akhtar of Malerkotla, who said that 30 people from Malerkotla were in attendance. They were all from the Muslim community. He has been running a langar service at the Singhu border for the last 40 days. Dr. Akhtar and his colleagues have also installed waterproof tents so that farmers can sleep comfortably in the cold. Apart from this, they have arranged 100 mattresses and sheets. Shaheed Tantray, the assistant photo editor at The Caravan, tweeted a picture of Muslim attendees offering prayers at the Tikri border.
Indian Punjabi Muslims from Maler Kotla offering evening prayers, expressing their solidarity with farmers protesting against farm laws at Tikri border. The farmers have blocked the highway for the last 50 days to express their discontent with the Modi regime.#farmersrprotestpic.twitter.com/y5U5Q45HlB
— Shahid Tantray- شاہد تانترے (@shahidtantray) January 15, 2021
Journalist Saahil Murli Menghani tweeted a video of the Tikri border on January 15. His tweet stated that women of different faiths had gathered there in support of the farmers’ movement.
Haters will not like this video
Hindu-Muslim-Sikh unity on display
Women of various religions gather at Tikri Border
’Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai, Assi hain sare bhai-bhai’
Meet is on between Modi sarkar & farmers at Vigyan Bhawan pic.twitter.com/XqtCIurUkm
— Saahil Murli Menghani (@saahilmenghani) January 15, 2021
Therefore, it is clear that Muslim women had joined demonstrations at the Tikri border in support of the protesting farmers. A photo of this incident was shared on social media with a misleading claim. In fact, there have been several such attempts to suggest that the protests have been hijacked by Muslims.