A photograph has gone viral on social media with the claim that it is representative of a Dalit protest. In the photo, bike borne cadres can be seen raising a flag which, it is claimed, is the national flag of Pakistan. The caption accompanying the photograph says ‘Dalit Andolan, Jhanda Pakistani, Yehi hai asli kahani’ (Dalit protest, Pakistani flag, this is the real story). The image with the caption has been shared widely on social media across various platforms.
Postcard News was among those who reported that the Pakistani flag was a part of the protest rally. Another caption accompanying the photograph read ‘दलित जुलूस में #पाकिस्तानी झंडे क्या कर रहे हैं। ये जातिबाद का जहर घोल के न तो महाराष्ट्र को तोड़ पाओगे और न ही “#भारत_तेरे_टुकड़े_होंगे” का ख्वाब पूरा होगा।’ (What are Pakistani flags doing in a Dalit rally? By spreading this poison of casteism, neither will Maharashtra break nor will the dream of a divided India be realised)
The image is being circulated in the aftermath of the violence that erupted at Koregaon, 30 km from Pune following the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon by the Dalit community. Mahesh Vikram Hegde who is the founder of the fake news website PostCard News and is followed by PM Modi on twitter was among those who joined the bandwagon.
Media will not dare to show this video! It was not dalit agitation, check what chants were shouted and what flag was raised during Mumbai violence!
— Mahesh Vikram Hegde (@mvmeet) January 4, 2018
While Alt News could not verify when and where the photograph was taken, in the aftermath of the Bhima-Koregaon violence, this image has been used extensively to portray the Dalit agitation as anti-national in nature. Regardless of the veracity of the image, a closer look at it will reveal that it is not the Pakistani flag that was raised. It is, in fact, the banner of Islam. The Pakistani flag has a white band on the left side. Also, there is a difference in the colour and the angle of the crescent in both flags. Alt News had earlier reported how News18 had mistaken the Islamic banner for the Pakistani flag.
In recent times, it has been observed that there’s been a surge in movements expressing Dalit-Muslim solidarity and the presence of Islamic flags could be seen in the same context. For the lay person, the nature of the flag can be a cause for confusion as a result of which one may easily believe that it was indeed the Pakistani flag that was displayed at the rally. The insinuation is however not innocuous when it emanates from profiles and pages which are known to spread false and misleading information with ulterior motives.