The tractor rally held by protestors against the centre’s farm bills on Republic Day, January 26, led to clashes with the Delhi police. Violence was reported from certain areas after some groups veered off the agreed-upon course. The clashes have also given rise to a deluge of misinformation including the ones claiming that farmers had replaced the Indian flag atop the Red Fort with a flag of Khalistan. Alt News showed in recent fact-checks (1 and 2) that Sikh religious flags (the Nishan Sahib) were unfurled from an empty flagstaff. Farmer leaders have blamed actor Deep Sidhu and gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana for hijacking the protests and sparking violence at Red Fort. “Some farmer leaders said they suspected the involvement of central government agencies in the incident,” reported Scroll.
Social media handle The Squint or The Squint Neon, infamous for sharing frequent misinformation, posted another video of a protestor attaching a Sikh flag atop a dome of the Red Fort. He wrote that the clip was for those saying that the tricolour was not removed. In the 8-second video, a protestor can be seen placing the Nishan Sahib flag while handing over the Indian national flag to another demonstrator. The post attempts to portray that the Nishan Sahib was unfurled after taking down the tricolour. (Archived link)
The same video is making the rounds on Twitter.
— AB (@SavageHumour) January 27, 2021
However, it is widespread on Facebook.
The video carries the logo of ‘Daily Post’ on the top right-hand corner. The Punjabi channel covered the farmers’ rally on January 26 continuously for five hours. If one carefully watches the broadcast uploaded on YouTube post the 1:49 mark, it becomes evident that the dome was empty. The protestor did not remove the tricolour and place the Nishan Sahib.
The relevant portion of the 5-hour broadcast has been attached below.
The crowd gathered on the Red Fort is carrying both Sikh religious flags and the Indian national flag. In the complete video, the protestor is seen attaching the Nishan Sahib on the empty dome while holding the tricolour. However, scenes before this incident have been clipped out of the viral video. The protestor who has climbed the dome is holding the Nishan Sahib. The camera then moves toward the right where we spot another protestor running toward the dome with the Indian national flag in his hand. The camera then shows the protestor atop the dome with both the Sikh flag and the tricolour. Both flags are visible for a couple of seconds until he returns the tricolour to the demonstrator standing at the foot of the dome. The broadcast then cuts to the other side.
The viral clip only shows the protestor holding both flags and returning the Indian national flag to another demonstrator thus giving the impression that the tricolour was replaced. In reality, there was no flag on the dome.
The Indian Express journalist Abhinav Saha has taken a photograph of the incident. This too shows that the protestor was attaching the Sikh flag on the dome and later trying to place the tricolour. He fails and hands over the Indian national flag to another demonstrator.
Thus, five seconds were clipped from a 5-hour-long broadcast to falsely project that protestors against the farm bills replaced the Indian national flag with the Nishan Sahib.