New Delhi – Indian security agencies have linked the spurt in social media messages targeting India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a coordinated effort that has the ‘imprint’ of Pakistani intelligence.
According to an assessment handed to the Government on 22nd April, the effort was designed to flood social media with messages to fuel anti-India sentiment, particularly in the Gulf countries, ‘by spreading false propaganda on Islamophobia in India’.
The Pakistani deep state, the report said, was attempting to bring a schism between India and close allies in the Gulf by attacking PM Modi who has invested heavily to deepen India’s ties with the Middle-East. The assessment includes a long list of troll handles based in Pakistan and in the Gulf countries that were being used to achieve this objective.
“What has been the novelty in the instant case is the use of prominent personalities in Gulf countries to scale up a systematic agenda of fake propaganda. On 21st April, the hashtag that was powered by entities in Pakistan was ‘ShameOnModi’. A day earlier, the hashtag was ‘ChaosInIndia’.
The campaign that targeted PM Modi was driven by systematically engineering circulation of video clips of isolated incidents of attacks or harassment of Muslim individuals in India to project as if the entire community was under attack.
Officials said it was not a coincidence that the Twitter handles of most of these feeders were created recently – between January and April – and indicated there was a clear plan and organised effort to target New Delhi. Many of the handles classified as spreaders are based in Pakistan as well. This time, however, the report said, there were also spreaders located in different countries of Gulf Cooperation Countries : Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. These are all old but unverified Twitter handles, the report said.