A nineteen-second-long video showing white flags depicting the cross on it, attached to a chariot complete with all Hindu iconographies carrying Hindu lord Balaji was shared on Twitter claiming to be from ‘Sri Balaji procession’. Newschecker found that the video does not show a religious procession, and in fact is from the farmers’ Maha Padayatra in Andhra Pradesh.
Hundreds of people retweeted the video in anger with captions such as, ‘Hindu Temple processions now have Christian flags.’
Newschecker found the same video posted on Facebook by user ‘Mission Kaali – English’
To check if the claim holds water, Newchecker started by analyzing the comment section of the viral tweet and found a reply by handle @Akhilkolicharam saying, ‘The video which you shared has nothing to do with Hindu Christian links. The people who were in that video are Farmers who gave their land to build the new capital of Andhra named, Amaravathi.’
Using the reply as a clue, we ran a keyword search for ‘farmers rally Amravati,’ and found an article by The Hindu under the news section titled ‘Amaravati farmers to embark on 45-day Maha Padayatra’ published on October 31, 2021.
According to the report, farmers from Amaravati carried out a padayatra (rally) from Thullur in Guntur district to Tirumala protesting against ‘splitting Amaravati, into legislative, executive and judicial capitals (Amaravati, Visakhapatnam, and Kurnool respectively) …’ The rally was titled ‘Nyayalaya to Devalaya’ (from Court to temple) and was organized by Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi and Amaravati Farmers’ JAC.
Farmers from Amravati had given their land to the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government for making the location the capital of the state. But the current YSR Congress Party dropped the TDP’s project and passed the Andhra Pradesh Decentralization and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act in January 2020.
The Andhra Pradesh assembly repealed the act which proposed three capitals for the state on November 22 after facing a huge backlash from the farmers of Amaravati.
The farmers’ rally began on November 1 from the High court in Guntur district and will conclude at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam on December 17.
Newschecker contacted the Amaravati Parirakshana Samiti (APS), the organization leading the farmers’ rally, who clarified that the procession was not a religious one. “The Padayatra was to culminate at Triupati, and so we decided that using a chariot would draw attention. But it is not related to a religious yatra. The flags were meant to show the inclusivity of all religions in the protest. We also had flags to represent the Muslim community,” said Vasi Reddy Vamshi Krishna member of APS.
Further, Siva Reddy, convener of APS told Newschecker, “If anybody is hurt by that (seeing the Christian flag on the chariot) we are sorry but it was done as a symbol of unity to show inclusivity of other cultures. This is not a religious procession, we are marching for Amravati. The flags were removed and we are carrying separate representations for Muslim and Christian communities.’’
A farmers rally against the Andhra Pradesh Decentralization and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020 that carried a chariot of Hindu lord Balaji was falsely shared as a Hindu religious procession.
Contacts from Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi