Row over TV news channel using Pakistan flag for Indian Muslims

In response to the backlash on social media, Asianet Suvarna News immediately issued an apology

During a live broadcast on Asianet Suvarna News, a Kannada news channel displayed the Indian flag for Hindus and the Pakistani flag for Indian Muslims while discussing a recently released paper by Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) on the changing religious demographics in India.

It is pertinent to mention that the EAC-PM report highlighted a slight decline in the Hindu population share in India between the span of 1950 and 2015, while the Muslim population share increased.

However, the channel’s decision to depict Muslims with Pakistani flag has sparked outrage across the nation. The critics flagged concern about the role of media in shaping public perception and the importance of responsible and inclusive reporting.  

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Taking to X, Congress candidate for Bangalore central constituency, Mansoor Ali Khan, wrote, “This is blatant dehumanisation, a sinister attempt to paint 20 crore Indian citizens as ‘the other’ based solely on their faith. Cannot and will not stand by such poisonous narratives to be broadcasted under the guise of journalism. This isn’t just poor reporting, it’s an attack on the very fabric of our diverse nation. We demand immediate action from @AsianetNewsSN against the anchor and the channel for promoting this toxic narrative (sic).”

Reportedly, an First Information Report (FIR) was filed against the news network at High Ground police station after a complaint was received against the channel and its anchor Ajit Hanumakkanavar.

Channel issues apology

Meanwhile, in response to the backlash on social media, Asianet Suvarna News immediately issued an apology, attributing the incident to an “oversight” and stating that the graphic was changed to generic Hindu and Muslim symbols.

The apology reads, “The graphics plate that was prepared to explain the population growth and decline of the majority communities in India and Pakistan was used to explain the growth and decline of the population of Hindu and Muslim communities in India. It is an inadvertence without malice. It was fixed within seconds as soon as it was noticed by the team. The Asianet Suvarna News team deeply regrets the inadvertence.”

Reacting to the apology, Kannada actor Chetan Kumar Ahimsa wrote: “After glaring mistake of identifying Indian Muslims via Pakistan flag, Asianet Suvarna News apologizes by ‘expressing deep regret for oversight’ Kudos both to fact-checkers & Suvarna for divulging & accepting error, respectively. If only Hindutva mind can be so easily rectified (sic).”

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