A photoshopped image falsely claims that the Indian national flag was hoisted atop the watch tower at Srinagar's Lal Chowk on account of Independence Day. Local journalists from Kashmir told BOOM that the Indian tricolour was not hoisted at Lal Chowk, which is under heavy police surveillance and confirmed that the Independence Day celebrations were held at the Sher-e-Kashmir stadium in Srinagar.
BOOM also contacted the photographer whose original photo was photoshopped to falsely claim that the Indian national flag was hoisted at Lal Chowk who said that the viral image was, "undoubtedly photoshopped".
The edited image with the false claim was shared by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Kapil Mishra, Kirron Kher and Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, MP, Ladakh.
On August 5, 2019 the BJP led central government abrogated section 370 of the Indian Constitution stripping the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir state of its special rights and making it an union territory. The abrogation was also accompanied by a total communication lines shutdown and a lockdown in the state which led to widespread outrage. This year marks the first year since the abrogation with internet services disconnected and curfew put in place Kashmir, for Independence Day
BJP leader Kapil Mishra shared the image saying 'Tiranga at Lal Chowk'
BJP MP from Chandigarh Kirron Kher tweeted the image with the caption, "Tricolour at Lal Chowk Srinagar. Jai Hind".
BJP Ladakh MP, Namgyal tweeted the doctored image with the caption drawing attention August 5, 2019 - the day Article 370 was abrogated. and said, "Lal Chowk #Srinagar which had remained as symbol of #AntiIndia campaign by dynast politicians & #Jihadist forces, has now become Crown of Nationalism. #modihaitomumkinhai Thanks my countrymen for electing @narendramodi @AmitShah #ModiSarkar.
What has changed since #5Aug2019?— Jamyang Tsering Namgyal (@JTNBJP) August 14, 2020
Lal Chowk #Srinagar which had remained as symbol of #AntiIndia campaign by dynast politicians & #Jihadist forces, has now become Crown of Nationalism.#modihaitomumkinhai
Thanks my countrymen for electing @narendramodi @AmitShah #ModiSarkar pic.twitter.com/4g8doLRUdp
The image has also been shared widely on Facebook with users comparing photos of two images of the Lal Chowk clock tower. One image in the collage shows people unfurling an Islamic flag on the tower while the other image is the doctored one shared by Mishra and others.
BOOM ran a search for the viral image and found that the original image is old and does not have the Indian tricolour in it.
We found the same image of the Lal Chowk in Srinagar, Kashmir sans the Indian flag published on a blog named Sunday Gentleman run by freelance journalist Mubasshir Mushtaq. A blog post titled "Paradise Lost?" and published on June 22, 2010 carried the same image but without the Indian flag as its cover photo. The same photo without the flag has over the years been used by various sites including a 2017 story credited to PTI and published on IndiaTV.
Below is the screenshot comparison of the doctored image (L) and the image from Mubasshir Mushtaq's blog.
BOOM contacted Mushtaq who confirmed that the picture was clicked by him in June 2010, when he visited the Valley for a vacation.
"I clicked the photo at Lal Chowk when on vacation to Kashmir in 2010. I then used the same image in my blog entry about Kashmir," Mushtaq said. He added that he had been alerted to Kapil Mishra's tweet. "I was told that the Indian flag has been added to my photo of the Lal Chowk. It is undoubtedly photoshopped."
We further got in touch with a local Kashmir based journalist who shared with pictures from Lal Chowk clicked on August 15, 2020. At the time when the journalist visited the area, the Indian national flag was not hoisted atop the clock tower.
Below is the exif data of the image which shows it was taken on August 15, 2020 at 11.05 am.
According to the news agency UNI, Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha hoisted the Indian national flag at the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium in Sonawar to celebrate India's 74th Independence Day.
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