There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the Nishan Sahib that was hoisted on the Red Fort in Delhi during the tractor parade on Republic Day.
Many articles condemning the act were published by Godi media and unfounded rumours circulated inciting the flag raised as a Khalistani flag.
On January 26, numerous farmers entered the capital from Singhu and Ghazipur borders. The rally soon turned violent and protesting farmers clashed with police.
Demonstrators were hit by Delhi police with batons and tear gas was fired into the crowds.
Despite that, the Godi media decided to focus mainly on the Khalsa flag being raised on the Mughal-era monument and ignore the plight and voice of the people who are asking the Prime Minister to repeal the farm bills.
Nishan Sahib vs Khalistan flag
“Tiranga supplanted at Red Fort”, “Khalistani flag raised at Red Fort” were some of the fake headlines that appeared following the events of January 26.
Both of the above are incorrect. The Tiranga (Indian flag) was not supplanted – the pole where the Nishan Sahib was hoisted was in fact empty.
Moreover, the protesting farmers who arrived at the Red Fort did not hoist a Khalistani flag.
By looking at the images you can clearly see the Nishan Sahib, which is the saffron triangular flag with a two-edged dagger (Khanda) as its central motif.
The Nishan Sahib represents the Sikh community, as they say the Khanda is a powerful tool that can differentiate truth from falsehood.
Guru Gobind Singh ji used the Khanda to prepare amrit (holy nectar) by stirring it in sweetened water.
For the Sikh community the Nishan Sahib is the flag of justice; the flag of morals and ethics and it is meant to protect the oppressed.
It represents the presence of the Khalsa, therefore it can be found in any Gurdwara.
There is no official flag which represents the Khalistan movement, but mostly they are found to be rectangular, of yellow colour, with a Khanda in the centre and Khalistan written on it.
The Khalistan movement is about freedom from tyrannical rule and it seeks to create a homeland for Sikhs by establishing a sovereign state, named Khalistan.
Khalistan would consist of land that currently forms Punjab in India and Punjab in Pakistan.
Was there actually an issue in raising the Nishan Sahib on the Red Fort?
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh condemned the violence during the rally. He also emphasised that it was not a crime to hoist the Nishan Sahib on a vacant flag post at the Red Fort.
In a statement he said: “Violence by farmers or police at Red Fort can’t be justified. But controversy over hoisting Nishan Sahib over a vacant flag pole at Red Fort is a non- issue.
“Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee organises Fateh March every year to Red Fort with Nishan Sahib. Nishan Sahib is hoisted at Galwan Valley. Nishan Sahib was part of the Republic Day Parade this year. It is not right to criticise Nishan Sahib by calling it the flag of Khalistan.”
When people hoist a flag as a symbol of regime change, the previous one is usually brought down.
During the rally of January 26, the Tiranga was not touched and it was flying high above the Nishan Sahib.
Protesters explained the hoisting of the Sikh flag meant they wanted to assert their identity as well.
They want to be counted and they want the rulers of the nation to not take them for granted.
In addition to that, The Nishan Sahib has been recorded to have been hoisted at the Red Fort approximately 16 times during the 18th century.
The same flag was seen as a beacon of hope by all minorities when the Dal Khalsa Fauj marched in Punjab under the leadership of Banda Singh Bahadur.
If people embraced the Nishan Sahib back then, why is it seen as an issue now?
People took to social media to comment on the flag being hoisted at the Red Fort.
One person commented: “Godi media won’t tell you that no India flag was taken down. The Sikh flag and a kisan flag were put up together. This is the Nishan Sahib which represents truth, sovereignty, equality, humility, righteousness, sarbat da bhalla.
“This is the flag outside of every Gurdwara, which welcomes people of all colour, caste, creed. This is the Nishan Sahib which langar is prepared under at our Gurdwaras which feed the world.
“Now our own people are questioning it, it is shocking. falling for the divisive narrative being pushed by the Godi media.
“The same Godi media has been labelling the farmers terrorists. Terrorists for eating pizza, terrorists for having foot massage machines, terrorists trying to fight to earn a basic living. Wake up people.”
Another person added: “Nothing wrong in hoisting the flag that stands as a beacon against oppression of all people (not just Sikhs), it was done peacefully. If any violence happened after, it was the result of police excesses.”