11:10 GMT27 February 2021
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    The very claim that the Indian tricolour was “insulted” for being removed from a flagpole at New Delhi’s Red Fort and replaced with a Sikh religious flag has been disputed by Indian fact-checkers.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that he was shocked to witness the “insult” to the Indian national flag on Republic Day on 26 January, breaking his silence on the violent farmer protests that rocked the heart of New Delhi on the country’s national day last week.

    “The whole country was shocked and hurt to witness the insult to our national flag on 26 January. We have to ensure that we fill the time ahead with hope and patience,” stated the Indian PM during the broadcast of his radio show ‘Mann Ki Baat’

    ​Thousands of tractor-bound farmers stormed the Indian capital to protest the three new farm laws on 26 January, after camping at the state border for more than two months.

    The situation turned volatile during the 26 January rally after a group of agitating farmers veered off the previously-agreed terms of protest and attempted to lay siege to the Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is also the site of India’s annual Independence Day celebrations.

    In the process, the protesters clashed with police and even hoisted a Sikh religious flag on a pole. India’s national flag is hoisted at the Red Fort. Initially, it was claimed that the farmer protestors had hoisted the Sikh flag after taking down the national flag.

    Fact-checking website Alt News, however, found the claim to be fake, pointing out that the Indian flag wasn’t removed at all.

    However, the Narendra Modi government continues to claim that Indian flag has been “insulted”.

    "Action should be against all of those who instigated others. India won't tolerate the manner in which the tricolour was insulted at the Red Fort," federal minister Prakash Javadekar said on 27 January.

    The Delhi Police say that “vandalism” of the fort by protestors is an “anti-national” act.

    Eleven rounds of negotiations between farmer leaders and the federal government have failed to resolve the deadlock. The protesting farmers say that they won’t stand down until the government agrees to repeal the three new farm laws, which the agriculturalists claim would pave the way for full-fledged entry of big corporations into the farm sector.

    Eighty-four people have been arrested, and 38 complaints filed so far by Delhi Police in connection with events onthe  Republic Day, the police said in a statement on Saturday.

    Related:

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    Protesting Indian Farmers Observe Day-Long Fast to Mark Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's Death
    Mobile Services Suspended for 2 Days at Farmers' Protest Sites Near Delhi as Tensions Soar
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