On Tuesday 26 January, farmers protesting the Narendra Modi government’s farm laws reached Delhi's Red Fort and hoisted the Nishan Sahib, which is considered holy for Sikhs.
English news channel Times Now claimed that the Indian tricolour was "supplanted" and the Nishan Sahib was hoisted in its place.
The channel also accused the protesters of desecrating a national symbol. The same claim was amplified by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, senior journalist Rahul Shivshankar, a handle called Pakistan First and various other users.
But, this claim is not true. The mast where the protesters hoisted the Nishan Sahib was empty. The Indian national flag continued to remain hoisted on top of the Red Fort and wasn’t disturbed by protesters.
This older picture from Red Fort shows clearly that the place where the Nishan Sahib was hoisted is usually empty.
The Nishan Sahib symbolises the presence of the Khalsa and hence is hoisted at every Gurdwara premises.
Here is the Nishan Sahib at the Harmandir Sahib complex in Amritsar.
The Nishan Sahib is a triangular flag and not the same as the Khalistan flag. There is no official flag of Khalistan but most of the flags carried by pro-Khalistan outfits are rectangular and different from the Nishan Sahib. Here are some versions of the Khalistan flag.
Rather than the idea of Khalistan, the inspiration for the protesters’ act comes from Baghel Singh, the Sikh general who had hoisted the flag at Red Fort after emerging victorious in his conflict against Mughals.
The Nishan Sahib also holds immense significance for the Indian Army’s Sikh regiment.