Pakistani flag in Uttar Pradesh? At least that is what News18India would like us to believe. “Uttar Pradesh, Gonda: Pakistani flag hoisted on an electricity pole, created tension”, tweeted News18India. A picture of the flag accompanied the tweet. If you believe a nationals news channel must know what the Pakistani flag looks like, you are in for a surprise.

Here is the News18India‘s tweet and photograph of the flag

#UttarPradesh गोंडा: बिजली के पोल पर लहराया पाकिस्तानी झंडा, मचा हड़कंप

Here’s a video of News18’s broadcast:

On seeing the tweet, Twitter users were quick to point out that the flag in the picture was not the Pakistani flag but an “Islamic flag”. Twitter user, @Md_Hakim marked UP police on the tweet and asked them to investigate this attempt to spark communal tension. UP police in turn marked Gonda police to investigate and take action. Gonda police clarified that it was not the Pakistani flag but one which had an inscription in Urdu that can be roughly translated as “there is no one worthy of worship but Allah.”

While the flag in question was green in colour and had a crescent, it is inexcusable that a national news channel doesn’t know the difference between such a flag and the Pakistani flag.

This is not the first time that a news channel has mixed up other green flags with the Pakistani flag. Times Now, Times of India and ANI news have all made the same error in recognising Pakistani flag in the past.

Here is a quick guide for media to avoid such goof-ups in the future:

Pakistani flag: The Pakistani flag has a white band on the left. Note the colour and the angle of crescent and the star

islamic flag vs pakistani flag

Islamic flag: The green flag with the crescent is often regarded as an Islamic flag, though there is no prescribed flag in Islam. There is no particular flag that can be called an “Islamic” flag, though the image of the crescent and the star is associated with Islam. Past and present flags of Islamic countries have varied images or inscriptions ranging from the crescent and star, Shahada to the takbir. Contrary to popular belief, they need not always be green in colour.

Once again, we see that basic fact checking takes a back seat when it comes to breaking sensational news. News18India has now deleted the story but at the time of writing this article, the tweet was still on its website. For the deleted story, there was no apology, explanation, retraction or even an acknowledgement of the error.