Following the victory of Congress in the Karnataka elections on Saturday, a video of an Islamic flag being waved during celebrations has gone viral on social media. The video is claimed to be shot in Bhatkal in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. Several influential persons, noticeably aligned with the right wing, have shared the clip indicating that the particular flag symbolised inevitable doom for the state with Congress coming to power replacing the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The BJP national information technology department head Amit Malviya tweeted the video with a cryptic caption. He wrote, “Bhatkal. Soon after Congress victory in Karnataka…”. (Archive)
Twitter Blue subscriber @erbmjha tweeted a screengrab from the viral clip and wrote, “A man has been seen waving an Islamic flag in Bhatkal, Karnataka after Congress won today.” The user added that Bhatkal was a Muslim-dominated region and “convicted Indian Islamic terrorist” Yasin Bhatkal hails from Bhatkal. (Archive)
Twitter Blue subscriber @MrSinha_ tweeted the clip and wrote “This is what we lost….” following the BJP’s defeat in the state. (Archive)
Verified account “Woke Patroller” tweeted the clip and remarked that “trends have started emerging” even though the Congress is yet to form a government in Karnataka. (Archive)
Verified account @rightwing_guy claimed that waving the flag was how “Congress supporters were celebrating” the election results. (Archive)
Several other users including Right Wing influencer Arun Pudur, verified users @FltLtAnoopVerma, @chad_infi, @Shruthi_Thumbri and @muktanshu tweeted the clip with the same claim. BJP worker Rahul Jha claimed that a saffron flag had been replaced with an Islamic flag in the viral clip.
The clip is also viral on Facebook with the same claim.
The first thing that the viewer must note is that a saffron flag with the Hindu religious symbol Om, and a blue flag with BR Ambedkar’s face, indicating Dalit resistance, can also be seen being waved alongside the Islamic flag in the viral video. Contrary to certain claims, the saffron flag is not replaced with an Islamic flags.
Alt News contacted a local resident named Salahuddin in Bhatkal who provided us with a video shot at the spot where the celebrations took place. In the video, he states, “Hello, this is the Bhatkal Circle. 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’ flag. Don’t fall for the misleading claims on Twitter, all four flags were put up at the same time.”
We also accessed more video footage from the celebrations. In all these videos, the saffron flags and the Islamic flags are seen being waved together, without any sense of communal tension whatsoever. Contrary to the message that is being spread by the Right Wing ecosystem, several saffron flags were raised along with the Islamic flags. In one 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.
We accessed a clearer video of the Bhatkal Circle, shot on the morning of Saturday, May 13. One can clearly see the saffron flag and the Islamic flag placed side by side. The blue flag symbolising Dalit resistance is placed next to the saffron flag while the Congress flag is attached next to the Islamic flag.
Speaking to Vartha Bharati, Uttara Kannada SP Vishnuvardhana urged social media users to refrain from spreading rumours and posting sensitive content that could lead to a law and order situation in the region. “It was a religious flag, and it was not a Pakistani flag,” he said. “We have confirmed it, and we request the social media users not to share any misleading information that could create communal unrest.” He also added that no complaint was filed or action was initiated in this regard as the officers on the spot had already confirmed it was not a Pakistani flag.
Thus it is quite evident, that the Islamic flag had not raised with the intention of sparking a communal agitation. It was raised alongside Hindu religious flags, blue flags for Dalit resistance and several flags of the Congress party. Alt News accessed footage from the celebrations at Bhatkal that clearly showed people waving the Islamic flags and the saffron flags at the same time. As the local resident said in the aforementioned video statement, “All the flags at the Bhatkal Circle were put up at the same time – Congress ka flag, Babasaheb Ambedkar ka flag, Hindu flag aur Muslim flag.” The Congress flag, Babasaheb Ambedkar’s flag, the Hindu flag and the Muslim flag.
This article first appeared on Alt News.