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Clip shared with false claim ‘Pakistan flag hoisted’ after opposition won in Indian mega-state

In World
June 14, 2024

A video of a religious flag atop a truck has been shared in posts that falsely claimed residents of Bareilly city in India’s Uttar Pradesh state waved the flag of Muslim-majority Pakistan to celebrate the failure of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to secure a majority in the state after the country’s general election. The flag in the video differs from Pakistan’s national flag, and the video circulated online weeks before the results of India’s marathon national polls were announced.

“Bareilly became Pakistan!!” read part of a Hindi-language post shared on social media platform X on June 5, 2024.

“As soon as Samajwadi Party won 37 seats in Uttar Pradesh, people from the peace loving community in Bareilly waved the flag of Pakistan,” the post continued, using a phrase that Hindu hardliners sarcastically employ to refer to Muslims.

A video attached to the post shows people sitting atop a truck waving a green flag that bears the star and crescent moon symbol of Islam.

Superimposed on the video is an image of Pakistan’s national flag, and a person speaking over the footage says: “The Pakistan flag is waving in Bareilly, policemen are also standing there.”

<span>Screenshot of the false X post, captured on June 6, 2024</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/olvgIWWxBnnVrQOUu10Udg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTExNTg-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/fdd496fefbdab1dca08417b483f18e40″><noscript><img alt=Screenshot of the false X post, captured on June 6, 2024” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/olvgIWWxBnnVrQOUu10Udg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTExNTg-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/fdd496fefbdab1dca08417b483f18e40″ class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot of the false X post, captured on June 6, 2024

The post surfaced after the results of India’s marathon general election were announced, showing that the opposition Samajwadi Party had won more seats than Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in Uttar Pradesh — India’s most populous state and a bellwether for national elections

It was the first time in 15 years that the BJP had failed to win the most seats in the state, the heartland of India’s majority faith that had formed the bedrock of the BJP’s parliamentary strength.

Modi will remain in office but with a substantially reduced mandate and needing to rely on coalition allies to govern.

The video was also shared with similar claims elsewhere on X and on Facebook.

But it does not show people in Bareilly waving Pakistan’s national flag.

Not Pakistan’s flag

The flag shown in the video is different to Pakistan’s national flag; it does not have a vertical white stripe close to the hoist and the star and crescent symbol faces in the opposite direction.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the flag in the video (left) and a picture of Pakistan’s national flag from AFP’s archives (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison of the flag in the video (left) and a picture of Pakistan’s national flag from AFP’s archives (right)</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/6Xq2WZvc3WQxs_zDrmmRUg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTM5NQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/e565dc6838bf30383a396cdd15a20f95″><noscript><img alt=Screenshot comparison of the flag in the video (left) and a picture of Pakistan’s national flag from AFP’s archives (right)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/6Xq2WZvc3WQxs_zDrmmRUg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTM5NQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/e565dc6838bf30383a396cdd15a20f95″ class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot comparison of the flag in the video (left) and a picture of Pakistan’s national flag from AFP’s archives (right)

Moreover, a reverse image search of keyframes followed by keyword searches led to the same footage posted by an Instagram user on May 19 (archived link).

The Instagram post was shared more than two weeks before the results of India’s weeks-long general election were announced on June 4.

A representative for Bareilly’s police force told AFP the video “has no connection with the results” of the poll.

The officer said the video is from a religious procession that took place in 2023.

“The flag seen in the video is not the flag of Pakistan but is related to the religion of Islam.”

AFP has debunked more misinformation around India’s elections here.

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