EU Disinfo Lab, a non-profit digital platform researching disinformation campaigns, has produced an investigative report that links the questionable European parliamentarians’ visit to Kashmir with a network of fake media networks and think-tanks across the world.
Last month, the Prime Minister’s Office allowed a delegation of Members of the European Parliament (MEP), to visit Kashmir for the first time since the state was shut down post abrogation of Article 370 on August 5. Indian politicians and opposition parties cried fouled over the decision to allow foreigners to visit Kashmir when Indian MPs were stopped and forced to return from Srinagar airport.
It was soon exposed that the MEPs were invited by a UK-based NGO, run by Madi Sharma. 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 an organisation called the Srivastava Group. A report from The Wire had revealed that Srivastava Group’s filings with the Registrar of Companies show that the firms in the group do little or no business.
Srivastava Group also runs a publication, New Delhi Times, which has the same address as IINS.
On October 9, 2019, EUvsDisinfo, another independent non-profit fake news-busting platform had found that EPtoday.com – a magazine for the European Parliament – had been syndicating articles from Russia Today and Voice of America, with barely any original content.
Following the report on EP Today, EU DisinfoLab found cyber footprints to linking the website with the Srivastava group.
The research also found that ‘timesofgeneva.com’ posted the same content as EP Today and also reported heavily on anti-Pakistan demonstrations – mainly revolving around Pakistan’s religious minorities.
Probing into the servers that hosted EP Today and the like, EU Disinfo Lab unearthed 265 media houses in more than 65 countries that had been extinct or non-existent previously.
Not only do all of them have similar news, but these 265 outlets have extensively covered the same anti-Pakistani events and put out stories that ‘served the Indian government’s geopolitical interests’.
After a volley of international reports based on EU Disinfo Lab’s study, the research organisation has said that it will publish an extensive report in the coming weeks, on the same.