Three images of two Muslim men burning flags in front of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) banner have gone viral on Twitter and Facebook. As per the accompanying claim, AIMIM Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh members burnt saffron flags.
“This is Md Saleem Ansari from AIMIM, Pratapgarh who is publicly burning a saffron flag. Such people become the cause of riots,” reads the claim. Multiple users on Twitter have tagged UP police alerting them about the alleged incident.
(Translated from: ये प्रतापगढ़ के AIMIM जिलाध्यक्ष मो० सलीम अंसारी हैं, जो कि खुलेआम भगवा झंडे को जला रहे हैं, ऐसे ही लोग दंगे की वजह बनते हैं।)
Some Facebook users (link 1, link 2) have shared another image of the incident and claimed that the men burned the Indian national flag. A poster with ‘India मुर्दाबाद’ written is seen behind the men.
Alt News performed a keyword search on Facebook using ‘प्रतापगढ़ के AIMIM’ and found that Facebook user Parwana Malik Ziya had posted the viral images on June 14.
In the post, Ziya wrote that AIMIM members burnt a Nepalese flag after the country’s government declared a part of Indian territory as their own.
As per this post, the men in the viral image are AIMIM members Saleem Ahmed Ansari and Israr Ahmed.
Using this as a clue, Alt News performed another keyword search, this time on Twitter, and found that this claim has been debunked by Pratapgarh police.
Responding to Twitter user @Vivek21shukla, Pratapgarh police tweeted in Hindi, “The flag displayed in the above-mentioned case is of Nepal. To protest the parliament of Nepal allegedly declaring Indian territories as their land, members of AIMIM party Pratapgarh burnt Nepalese flags. (translated from उक्त प्रकरण में प्रदर्शित झण्डा नेपाल देश का है, नेपाल देश की संसद द्वारा कथित रूप से भारतीय क्षेत्र को नेपाली क्षेत्र बताये जाने के विरोध में एआईएमआईएम पार्टी प्रतापगढ़ के सदस्यों द्वारा नेपाल का झण्डा जलाया गया है।).
The tweet by Pratapgarh police also included two images — a news clipping and letter by Ansari dated June 16 which also talks about the protest against Nepal.
The clipping shared by the police clearly shows that the men are burning a Nepalese flag.
In response to @Asli_Shivani’s tweet, Pratapgarh police upload a video clarification by one of the men in the viral video. He says, “I had notified the respected president and district magistrate about this protest. I’m protesting against Nepal. In case someone thinks that this act was done to hurt religious sentiments, I’d like to apologise. (Translated from मैंने इस आशय का ज्ञापन माननीय राष्ट्रपति संभोदित करते हुए झिला अधिकारी को दिया है मैं नेपाल का विरोध कर रहा हूँ और अगर मेरे इस योग से किसी को यह लग रहा है कि मैंने किसी की धार्मिक भावनाओं को आहत करने के लिए माफ़ी चाहता हूं।)
The same men can be seen burning a Nepalese flag in a video uploaded by YouTube channel Osoking O’Tv on June 18.
The collage below clearly shows that the Indian flag and the poster against the country were morphed into the image.
Thus the social media claim associated with the viral image is false. The AIMIM members were burning Nepalese flags to protest the country’s decision to include Indian territory in their map.