In its perennial quest to dehumanise and demonise India, and in particular the Narendra Modi BJP government, the BBC has revealed the results of an exhaustive investigation in which it contends that a coordinated network of fake accounts posed as Sikh personas to promote the ‘nationalism’ of the Indian government and in doing so to label Sikh activists as terrorists. One Benjamin Strick, a self-professed ‘digital investigator’ dug his heels in with an exhaustive thread on Twitter where he laid details of several apparently fake bot and sock puppet accounts which had apparently labelled Sikh political interests as extremist, with the ostensible agenda to stoke cultural tensions within India and overseas and promote the Indian government.
It is telling that the BBC yet again wields its extensive resources-which the UK public pays for through its television license-to shine an exclusive spotlight on India and its apparent Sikh hatred, while deliberately deciding not to allocate such resources, time and manpower towards investigating other digital attacks on India that impact its peaceful citizens (not just Hindus) that arguably sow greater discord and can damage communal relations.
For instance, the focus of this digital ‘investigation’ conveniently ignores the over 1,000 fake twitter accounts that were created to launch propaganda campaigns against India on the same day that the Indian government announced the annulment of Article 360 of the constitution–the ambit of that particular tactic was clear-to whip up anger and hostility towards Hindus from Muslims and other minorities through hateful tweets, memes, and misleading graphical information. It is strange the BBC would not find this a more troubling campaign to focus their time upon.
It is also telling that the results of this biased investigation were unveiled merely days after Narendra Modi’s regime made the smart strategic decision to repeal the three contentious farm laws which the BBC has exhaustively covered through one narrative, telling the side of largely Punjab based farmers while ignoring what fueled the dispiriting seditious carnage on the ramparts of the Red Fort on Republic Day, or the overseas monetary assistance to mount social media attacks on the nation at the expense of allowing the negotiations over the farm laws to take place without prying eyes.
The BBC are seemingly also not interested in the findings of an India-based private organization, “Disinfolab”, that is run by a group of Open-source intelligence (OSINT) experts, and its report titled, “The Anatomy of Pakistan’s 5th generation warfare, How Twitter’s loopholes are being weaponized to create conflict in South Asia”. That report exposes loopholes in social media platforms being used by Pakistan-based state actors, who enjoy the support of key members of the present political dispensation and that of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces, to generate and amplify anti-India disinformation campaign that has the potential to cause loss of lives and property, private experts and government officials.
Now while fake bots, troll factories, and digital campaigns are used against political actors throughout global political theatres, it is telling that the BBC wishes to focus only on alleged anti-Sikh hatred online at the expense of covering attacks against the BJP and Modi more broadly-their focus is tiered towards Congress political aims, those of foreign interlopers who wish to spread discord and division between Sikhs and the Hindu polity, and to obscure any prominence in social media theatres that shows Modi, the BJP and the RSS in a favorable light.
Rather than talking more widely about the issue of digital bots and online propaganda used against India (or even emanating from within India) the BBC has decided to focus purely on Sikhs, to couch their investigation in terms of an evil nationalist agenda against this particular minority, and to conveniently fail to consider and investigate how these variables impact Hindus, other minorities, or why trending political developments like the CAA are leapt upon to chill populist and nationalist voices, concerns and political debate.
It is another example of their quest to destroy the ‘Indian Trump’ in Narendra Modi and they will continue to expend taxpayer resources to sow disharmony in the UK and abroad to further their agenda to do it.
Saurav Dutt is a TIME magazine featured Author and Political Columnist, his work has been featured on CNN, WIRED, Russia Today, Esquire and other outlets.
He can be found on Twitter on @sd_saurav.
LLB (Hons) Law
LLM (Master of Laws) International Business Law
Author, Political Analyst, Human Rights Campaigner
Featured: TIME, Esquire, CNN, Newsweek, BBC, GQ, Huffington Post, VICE, Business Insider, The Independent, The Guardian, Sky News, The Telegraph, Financial Times (FT), The Spectator, WIRED, Al Jazeera.