Fact Check: Viral video spin-doctored; Islamic, not Pakistani, flag at Karnataka rally

It's not the Pakistan flag, but the Islamic flag—alongside saffron and Dalit flags—that was waved at a celebratory rally in Karnataka's Bhatkal to celebrate the Congress win

Screen-grab from the video showing a man waving the Islamic flag
Screen-grab from the video showing a man waving the Islamic flag

NH Digital

Soon after the Indian National Congress' victory in the Karnataka elections, right-wing supporters and BJP leaders began flagging a viral video on Twitter as the "doom of Karnataka".

The video, shot in Bhatkal in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, depicts a celebratory rally where Congress supporters are waving a green flag with a crescent moon and star (an Islamic symbol, yes) as well as a saffron-coloured flag with Om written on it (for the Hindus) and a blue flag with B.R. Ambedkar’s face (presenting Dalit supporters) on Saturday.

The right-wing brigade on Twitter swiftly claimed that they were waving Pakistan's national flag and shouting slogans such as "Pakistan zindabaad [long live Pakistan]"—several users shared the video with a communal spin, and now have egg on their faces.

Notably, Amit Malviya, the national convener of the BJP IT cell, also shared the video.

Contrary to the alarmist claims (or in some cases, fear-mongering implications), the flag being waved is the Islamic flag, representing the faith in general and symbolising an Islamic identity worldwide, as opposed to the Pakistan flag, which represents the specific nation state.

There is a basic similarity, yes, since Pakistan is an Islamic state and uses Islamic symbolism, naturally. However, the crescent moon and star symbol is globally associated with Islam—the flags of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Algeria, Libya, Uzbekistan all have a similar symbol on them!

"There were no flags here at the beginning. All the flags (you see) were put up at the same time, be it the green flag, orange flag, Babasaheb Ambedkar’s flag or Congress’s flag. Don’t fall for the misleading claims on Twitter. All four flags were put up at the same time," a Bhatkal local named Salahuddin told Alt News.

Furthermore, the Alt News fact-check report has accessed more video footage from celebratory rallies in Bhatkal clearly depicting several saffron-coloured flags being waved alongside the green ones. For instance, a man holding an Islamic flag is seen marching at the centre of a rally, while his compatriots are seen waving saffron flags and Congress flags.

Similarly, a fake tweet attributed to Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif went viral on social media, which claimed that Sharif congratulated Congress following their win in Karnataka. Fact-checkers were quick to debunk the morphed tweet.

Photo Courtesy: BOOM Fact Check
Photo Courtesy: BOOM Fact Check

Meanwhile, fake videos have also emerged from the Belagavi district. BJP spokesperson M.B. Zirali alleged that "Pakistan zindabaad" slogans were raised immediately after the results were announced there on Saturday.

"It is a fake video. I have got it fact-checked. Miscreants have added voice bites to the video to make it sound as if some youth are chanting ‘Pakistan zindabaad’. I urge the people not to believe in such propaganda," said Congress leader Asif (Raju) Sait.

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