A short clip showing a chariot bearing white flags with crosses, decorated to resemble a temple for Lord Balaji, a Hindu deity, were shared on social media. The video was shared to claim that Christian 'cross' flags were hoisted on a procession for Lord Balaji in Andhra Pradesh.
However, we found that the video is from the Amaravati Padayatra, which is a 45-day walk organised by farmers to demand that Amaravati be the only capital of Andhra Pradesh. The chariot seen in the video is not a religious one, but is from this Padayatra.
Local journalist Surya Reddy told The Quint that the chariot had Christian, Hindu as well as Muslim flags to denote inclusivity and solidarity among farmers.
The video is being shared to claim that it shows Christian flags on a chariot of Lord Balaji's procession in Andhra Pradesh.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
Under one of the claims, we found a comment from another Twitter user who called it "fake propaganda", noting that the video was from Amaravati.
The user added that the video showed farmers who gave their land to build a new capital in Andhra Pradesh, and were now protesting the state government's new policy of having three capitals instead of Amaravati.
They also noted that the flags of all major religions were displayed to show unity for the cause.
Taking a cue from here, we looked for more information on the farmers' protest in Amaravati and came across reports of a 'Amaravati Padayatra'.
According to an article by The Hindu, which was published on 11 November, the Amaravati 'Maha padayatra' is a 45-day protest by farmers in Andhra Pradesh who donated their land to the government so that Amaravati could be developed into a good capital.
The News Minute reported that the movement was jointly spearheaded by the Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi and the Amaravati Joint Action Committee (JAC) and started on 1 November in Amaravati. The protesters are set to travel all the way to Tirupati, in a 45-day journey on foot.
Further, we looked for visuals of the event and came across live videos on ETV Andhra Pradesh's verified YouTube channel, which were streamed on 3 and 9 November.
This footage helped us establish that the video was from the Amaravati Padayatra.
To get more details about the Christian flags on the Padayatra procession, The Quint got in touch with journalist Surya Reddy, who confirmed that the procession was not a religious one at all and flags from all major religions were put there to show that all religions were a part of the movement.
"The farmers donated their land to form Amaravati as a capital. When the 'three capitals' bill came into the Assembly, the farmers decided to take out a 45-day long foot march from Amaravati to Tirumala, where the Lord Tirupathi temple is, to show that only God will help us. This is why the chariot is made to look like the temple."Surya Reddy, Journalist
He also told that in the video, someone can be clearly heard saying that they did not look at caste or religion, because they are all one and have the same goals.
Satyam, a farmer who is a member of the Amaravati Joint Action Committee, also confirmed that the procession was related to the farmers' protest in Amaravati.
He said that farmers from all religions were a part of the padayatra, which is why all flags were present
Satyam added that earlier, the procession only had one main chariot that looked like the temple. After the video in the claim was widely shared, it caused controversy. Following that, the movement decided to have three separate chariots to represent each of the religions there, apart from the main one from 21 November onwards.
We looked for visuals of the single chariot from the movement before 21 November, and came across one in an article by Hans India, published on 8 November. The article carried a photo of the chariot, which showed flags of three colours hoisted on the chariot - a saffron, a green flag, and a white one.
Clearly, a Christian flag with a cross was not hoisted on a chariot from a religious procession for Lord Balaji.
The photograph shows a chariot from a protest movement by farmers in Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh, which had flags from all major religions in the country to show solidarity.