A piece of “breaking news” published by several media outlets on August 31 claimed that the Kerala police had booked 30 students of Kozhikode’s Silver Arts College for waving a Pakistani flag during the campaign for college elections.

The anchor on Times Now channel (which reported that 25 students had been booked) said that the Bharatiya Janata Party had protested against the incident. She went on to question the channel’s correspondent, “Yes, Vivek, could you give us details about what really happened because we can see the visuals of a massive Pakistani flag being raised?”

The correspondent reiterated the anchor’s claim.

Times of India, OpIndia and Dainik Jagran were among other media outlets that carried similar reports claiming that the Muslim Student Front raised the flag inside the college campus. It is noteworthy that the word “allegedly” found no mention in the headlines of any of these stories, though some outlets did use the word in the text of the articles.

The alleged incident was also picked by Pakistani media. Many across the bordershared Times Now’s broadcast, including Major General Asif Ghafoor, the spokesperson of the Pakistan Armed Forces.

Not the Pakistani flag but MSF flag

The police reportedly booked 30 students belonging to the Muslim Student Front, a student body associated with the United Democratic Front, under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 153 (intent to cause riot) and 149 (offence committed under unlawful assembly) of the IPC.

However, a basic fact check shows that the students were actually waving the MSF flag, not the Pakistani flag.

Malayam portal azhimukham.com quoted MSF State Secretary Nishad K Salim as saying that the students had only a minimum budget to campaign for the polls, which are set to be held on September 5. They got the flag stitched by a tailor who did not know the exact green-white ratio to be used: it should have been half and half.

“It isn’t the Pakistani flag, which has white on the left,” MSF General Secretary MP Navas told AltNews. “In the MSF flag, the white is at the bottom. If you see a photo of the upright flag, you can clearly see that the white is at the bottom. Moreover, in the MSF flag the crescent moon is on the left corner. A problem arose because we didn’t ourselves make the flag because of its large size. The tailor who made it didn’t know that the green-white ratio should’ve been 1:1 and he made a flag with a 3:1 ratio.”

The students mounted the flag on a stick, but it later broke, said Salim.

A different video of the event shows the flag with the stick intact. This video was uploaded by Facebook user Abdul Jaleel Ct who wrote, “This video will show the truth”.

Alt News found another video of the event uploaded on Twitter. Both these videos establish that the flag raised in Silver Arts and Science College was not Pakistan’s flag. The difference between the Pakistani flag and the MSF flag is distinct.

  1. The Pakistani flag has white on the left while the MSF flag has the colour at the bottom.
  2. The crescent moon on the Pakistani flag is in the middle while on the MSF flag it is on the top left corner.

A juxtaposition of the Pakistani flag and the MSF flag puts the distinction in perspective.

In the video that has gone viral on social media, the students can be seen holding the flag from all four corners in a horizontal position as the stick is absent. If the flag is turned upside-down, it looks the same as the one in the collage above – with the white at the bottom and the crescent moon on the top left corner

This was not the first time that students belonging to the organisation had waved imperfect flags. Images of the flag raised in Silver Arts College, Perambra, in 2016 also show an imperfect colour ratio.

While the police investigation is underway, there is little doubt that the flag raised was not the Pakistani flag but the flag of Muslim Student Front. Media outlets failed to highlight this fact in their report thus, giving credence to false claims.

This article first appeared on Alt News.