EU non-profit group states the controversial EU MPs visit to Kashmir is linked to a fake local media and think-tanks across the world
NEW DELHI| An EU non-profit group researching disinformation campaigns has stated the controversial European Parliamentarian’s visit to Kashmir is linked to the local fake media network and think tanks across the world.
Before past one week, the Modi government allowed a group of Members of European Parliament, a majority of whom were from far-right parties, to visit Kashmir for the first time since the state was put under lockdown after the abrogation of the Article 370. The visit rose many questions and turn into a political controversy. After the state is under lockdown no political minister is allowed to visit.
It was soon revealed that the MEPs were invited by a UK-based NGO, Madi Sharma, with the written guarantee of meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A leaked invitation letter also showed that the sponsor of the trip was a Delhi-based ‘think tank’, International Institute of Non-Aligned Studies (IINS).
As per IINS’s website, the institute is backed by the little known business house called the Srivastava Group. The Wire had revealed that filings with the Registrar of Companies show that the firms in the Srivastava group do little or no business. The Srivastava group also runs a publication called the New Delhi Times, which is based on the same address as IINS, in South Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave.
Fast forward one month and EUDisinfoLab asserts that EPtoday.com was just the tip of the iceberg. In a new study, the group has claimed that it has uncovered “265 fake local news sites in more than 65 countries are managed by an Indian influence network”.
The non-government organisation said that it started further investigations by looking into the antecedents of ‘times geneva’.com’ which had got the same content as EP Today and also reported on anti-Pakistan demonstrations.
Last week, EUDisinfoLab had tweeted a thread to show how Times of Geneva was part of the same network that includes Srivastava Group and NGOs like Pakistani Women’s Human Rights Organisation and European Organisation for Pakistani Minorities. Both their websites, as listed by EUDisInfoLab, are currently non-functional.
The non-profit group said that digging into EP Today and Times of Geneva also led to a ‘fake news agency’, 4newsagency.com. It found that the agency’s tweets and YouTube videos were largely about covering events and demonstrations highlighting the plight of minorities in Pakistan.
Looking more into the servers that hosted EP Today and Srivastava group, EUDisinfoLab found out that there were additional “265 resurrected media in more than 65 countries”.
As per the European NGO, all of them had some common elements. For example, they are named after an extinct local newspaper or spoof real media outlets.
They republish content from several news agencies, including Voice of America, Russia’s Interfax and North Korea’s state-run agency KCNA. The presence of KCNA among the other two agencies may be due to the long-standing association of the late founder of Srivastava group with the hermit state, as reported by The Wire.