It appears Pakistan has unleashed an online disinformation campaign against India. The ongoing farmers’ agitation is making matters easier for its propaganda. Delhi Police has identified at least 308 Twitter handles operated by Pakistani social media users, trying to mislead the protesters and create a law-and-order situation.
What’s even more disconcerting, the Pakistani users generated these profiles and proxies using common Indian names. The police struggled initially to ascertain the country of origin of the tweets.
Giving details of these Twitter handles, the special commissioner said all these handles had been generated in Pakistan between 13 January and 18 January.
Other than prominent Twitter handles such as Radio Pakistan and that of Pakistan-based columnist-journalist Mohammed Shafiq, others have been trying to push into the farmers’ demonstrations a pro-Khalistan movement as well. This could, police sources said, set in a panic amongst those sitting on protest as well as among the general masses.
Commenting on the matter, Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence Cell) Depender Pathak said, “We have identified 308 Twitter handles operating out of Pakistan, with the sole purpose of disturbing peace. The identification comes through state-of-the-art technology which has helped analyse the origin of these tweets.”
The revelation follows previous evidence of infiltration of Khalistanis among the rank and file of the protesting farmers. The Narendra Modi government had told the Supreme Court that banned organisation ‘Sikhs for Justice’ were part of the ongoing protest.
Meanwhile, eleven rounds of talks between the farmers’ unions and government have failed.
The police finding precedes the scheduled tractor rally by farmers, all set to take place on 26 January inside Delhi at three separate locations.
Pathak said that there was a threat perception from Pakistani terror outfits. “The threat perception is that Pakistan-based terrorist outfits may target the tractor rally or perhaps some mischievous elements would disturb law-and-order,” said Pathak.
The proposed Republic Day tractor march, which got police permission on 24 January, has been a controversial plan of the farmers, to counter which the Supreme Court had assured Delhi Police of complete autonomy. Yet, rather than denying permission to the potentially anarchic plan for the Republic Day, the cops gave it a go-ahead.
The Supreme Court had asked Delhi Police to take the final call on allowing the tractor march. Initially, Delhi Police had offered an alternative route at the Kundli border. However, after several rounds of discussions with farmers’ representatives, farmers have been allowed to enter the capital under certain terms and conditions.
The tractor rally will enter Delhi from Tiri, Singhu and Ghazipur borders. From Singhu, the march will pass through Kanjhawala, Bawana, Auchandi border, KMP Expressway and then return to Singhu, police said.
The protesting farmers have been planning this tractor march for a long time and thousands of tractors from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan have joined the protest sites in the past few days for their Republic Day parade. The middlemen-influence unions plan to showcase tractors from different states as it happens in Republic Day parade.
Farmers’ union leaders have promised that the march will be peaceful while Delhi Police has placed trust on them that the tractors will go back to the protest sites after their march, without proceeding further into the capital.
This is the first time, Delhi Police officially talked about outside links, specifically, Twitter handles having roots in Pakistan attempting to create disruption.