(On 19 November 2021, the News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) asked media outlet Zee News to take down three videos linked to farmers' protests that violated the code of ethics. One of the videos, published on 26 January, falsely reported that an Indian flag was removed from the Red Fort during the Republic Day protests. This piece from The Quint's archives is being republished to explain how none of the visuals from the Red Fort support this narrative.)
News channel Zee News, in its bulletin aired on Tuesday, 26 January, claimed that the Tricolour was removed and the protesters waved their own flags atop the minarets of the Red Fort, while agitating against the farm laws on Republic Day.
Another clipped viral video on social media is being shared with the same false narrative that the Tricolour was removed from the Red Fort.
However, we spoke to ground reporters and analysed the visuals. We found that the Tricolour was not removed from the Red Fort at any instance.
The Zee News bulletin shows the visuals of protesting farmers waving flags at the Red Fort. The anchor can be heard saying, “Watch the visuals of the Red Fort where the Tricolour was removed and Khalsa flag was put. See how the Tricolour was disrespected. The flag was dropped on the ground... The nation’s pride was thrown down and waved their own flag.”
Meanwhile, the text in the other viral video reads: “To all those who were saying Tiranga was not removed from Red Fort.”
The video was also shared after various fact-checkers, including The Quint’s WebQoof, verified that the Tricolour was not removed. We also received the same queries on our WhatsApp tipline.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
Let’s look at the claims made in the Zee News bulletin and the viral video one by one:
CLAIM 1: WAS THERE A TRICOLOUR ON THE SAID MINARET BEFORE?
The Quint’s reporter Shadab Moizee who was on the ground told us that the Tricolour was not replaced or removed at any instance and that the minaret seen in the said bulletin never had the national flag on it.
Describing the chronology of events, he said:
“First, the protesters waved their flag on the mast where the prime minister hoists the flag on Independence Day every year. After that, they waved their flags on the left and right minarets.”
A photographer on the ground, too, confirmed to The Quint’s WebQoof team that the minaret seen in the said bulletin neither had a Tricolour and nor did the protesters remove any flag from the Red Fort.
An Indian Express article titled as ‘Farmers protest photos: What it looked like at Delhi’s Red Fort today’ carried an image in which one can see that the two minarets do not have any flag on them.
The image is captioned as: ‘Protesting farmers celebrate on reaching the Red Fort during their ‘tractor march’.’
We further accessed the RAW file of the said photo to find out the EXIF data which showed that the photo was captured at 01:55 pm on Tuesday.
The image showing no flags at the said minarets was captured just hours before the protesters hoisted their flags for the first time at the Red Fort.
We also scanned the live streaming of PM Modi addressing Independence Day at the Red Fort in 2020. In these visuals, too, one can see that there are no flags at the said minarets.
CLAIM 2: WHAT ABOUT THE FLAG THAT THE PROTESTER DROPS?
At 0:04 seconds into the Zee News bulletin, one can see a protester dropping a flag. However, this flag is not the Tricolour but a flag that is white-green in colour.
We came across a Reuters image that was captured on Tuesday in which one can clearly see the Nishan Sahib flag and the white-green flag.
The same claim that the Tricolour was removed was made using another clipped video, which is now being shared widely on social media.
ANOTHER VIDEO USED TO CREATE THE SAME NARRATIVE
In the viral clip, we noticed a logo that read "Daily Pos Punjabi". Using this as the clue, we searched the YouTube handle of Daily Post Punjabi and found a live stream from Tuesday.
At 22:32 minutes, the reporter can be heard saying that the protesters have reached the Red Fort. At the same timestamp, one can see that there is no Tricolour on the minaret.
At 39:11 minutes, one can see a protester atop the minaret, waving their flag. There is only one flag and no Tricolour can be seen.
At 39:23 minutes, the video shows a person holding the Tricolour running towards the minaret. At 39:39 minutes, the person, atop the minaret, is seen with the Nishan Sahib flag as well as the Tricolour.
At 39:48 minutes, he can be seen unfurling only the protesters’ flag atop the minaret and returning the Tricolour to the other protester. However, the viral video only shows this bit and not the events that took place before it.
Following the violence and the chaos at the Red Fort, multiple people claimed that the national flag was ‘removed’. However, none of the visuals from the location support this narrative. Several users also claimed that “Khalistan flags” were hoisted, but we have debunked this and you can read the story here.