Fact Check: Placard seeking release of Kashmiri separatists is not from farmers’ protest

Fact Check: Placard seeking release of Kashmiri separatists is not from farmers’ protest

Rohit Kumar, Editor: A picture of a young man in turban, holding a placard demanding the release of separatist Kashmiri leaders, is viral on social media with the claim that it is a scene from the ongoing farmers’ agitation.

The text on the placard says, “RELEASE ALL MAINSTREAM & PRO-FREEDOM KASHMIRI LEADERSHIP”. Names of Sikh groups Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) can be seen at the bottom of the placard.

The Hindi caption with the picture, posted on the verified Twitter handle of Delhi BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar, translates to, “In the last three decades, terrorists have snatched away many a people from the lap of their mothers. When Hurriyat leaders stood in support of those terrorists, the heart cried a lot. Now that Narendra Modi has locked them up in jail, youth in the farmers’ protest want them released. Seeing this, the soul of their ancestors would also cry.”

India Today Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found the claim to be misleading. This picture is from December 9, 2019, when Dal Khalsa and SAD (Amritsar) took out a rally from Amritsar to observe World Human Rights Day. The organisers wanted to march till Srinagar but were stopped at the Jammu border.

The archived versions of similar posts can be seen here, here and here.

AFWA probe

Reverse-searching the picture, we found it in a news report published by “babushahi.com” on March 11, 2020. But the article had no mention of the whereabouts of the picture. We then reached out to Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh who confirmed to us that the picture is from a Dal Khalsa march held in December 2019.

“The picture in circulation is from a march by Dal Khalsa and SAD (Amritsar) from Amritsar to Srinagar. We were planning to observe World Human Rights Day by holding a sit-in at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on December 10. However, the march was stopped at Madhopur-Kathua interstate border on December 9. The man in the picture is Angad Singh from Srinagar. He was in Amritsar at the time and decided to join our march,” Kanwar Pal Singh said.

The sequence of events was corroborated by a “Hindustan Times” report dated December 9, 2019.

Kanwar Pal Singh also shared with us a picture of Angad Singh from the march. We compared this with a cropped version of the same image carried by news portal “Sikh24.com” on December 9, 2019.

We then reached out to Angad Singh, who is presently in Srinagar.

Speaking to AFWA, he said, “I am the person seen in this picture. This image has been circulating on social media with different claims since 2019. I was doing a diploma course from Amritsar in 2019. When Dal Khalsa organised a march to Srinagar, I joined them. This picture was clicked on December 9, 2019, at Pathankot border.”

“After lockdown, I left Amritsar and enrolled for a degree course at Kashmir University. I never visited the protesting farmers at Delhi’s borders,” he added.

We found Angad in the same attire and holding the same placard as seen in the viral picture in some video reports on the Srinagar march. The title of one such video uploaded on December 10, 2019, on Republic World’s YouTube channel says, “Akali Dal And Dal Khalsa Activists Stopped From Entering Jammu And Kashmir”.

Angad has also shared some images from the December 2019 march on his Facebook profile.

Here is a comparison between the viral image and a picture shared by Angad on Facebook from the same location on December 9, 2019.

On December 10, 2020, at Tikri border, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) had put up posters of several activists currently in jail, to mark World Human Rights Day.

However, it is clear that the viral picture of a Sikh youth demanding the release of imprisoned Kashmiri leaders is from a 2019 march and not related to the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the three farm laws.

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