Twitter into Action, amid Indian Farmers Protest that Allegedly Instigated Anti-India Agenda
Twitter has been doing a good job in blocking hate symbols, abusive behaviour, detecting unhealthy or unsafe communication on its platform that violates privacy and manipulates authenticity to fool masses. It has tried to advance its detection ability and has banned accounts that chose not to abide by its policies. But the bigger question is how helpful has it been in mitigating the growing aggression and violent behaviour expressed amid the Indian farmers protest?
Several recent incidents in India indicate gross misuse of social media platforms. Twitter, especially, has long been exploited for promoting the agenda for a separate state of Khalistan. Reports stated that Khalistan supporters, through Twitter, have been spreading the anti-India agenda that has led to violence. These accounts were reported to have been operating from Canada and the United Kingdom.
In the aftermath of the tractor rally by farmers on the occasion of Republic Day, Twitter made a brilliant move and suspended over 500 accounts, and even flagged tweets to counter attempts to create violence.
As per the recent reports, the farmers protesting against the agricultural laws in Delhi indulged in violence and created chaos on January 26. They even put a religious flag on the ramparts of the Red Fort, where the Indian prime minister hoists the national flag on August 15 every year.
It has been believed that the Khalistani terrorist, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a banned Khalistani group, instigated the farmers to remove the tricolour from Red Fort on Republic Day. He even linked the ongoing farmers’ protest in Delhi with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Meanwhile, the police have been trying to identify the protestors by extracting footage of CCTV cameras at various areas in the city. As a protective measure, the Twitter handles of several Khalistani supporters have been suspended. The aim behind is to halt the growing spread of anti-India sentiment.
Twitter was previously charged with allegations of being supportive of anti-India propaganda in September last year. A PIL was moved in the Delhi High Court seeking action against the social media platform for being allegedly involved in a conspiracy to promote Khalistan movement. The petitioner alleged that Twitter generated revenue by promoting such handles. Moreover, it also sought a direction to Twitter to share its source code with the Indian government.
As per the EU DisinfoLab, the seeds of this conspiracy were sown back in August 2020. They said that the Khalistan narrative of the Indian farmer protests was born mainly in Pakistan, pushed by social media groups sponsored by the Inter-Services (ISI) Public Relations, the media and PR wing of Pakistan’s armed forces. The Macdonald–Laurier Institute (MLI), a right-wing think tank that authored and published a report entitled “Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan” with former CBC journalist Terry Milewski, was sued by the SFJ group in December.
In the defamation lawsuit with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the SFJ group stated that the authors published an untrue and misleading report regarding its efforts in promoting Referendum 2020, the pro-Khalistan campaign to liberate Punjab. The authors also characterised SFJ as the puppet of the Government of Pakistan.
Earlier, the EU DisinfoLab also accused Asian News International (ANI) and Srivastava Group (SG), an Indian entity that ran several pro-India disinformation campaigns. Many called it India’s defence against the growing Pakistani propaganda in the country and supported the campaign. Overall, both the firms were widely criticised for promoting massive EU disinformation campaign to support the Indian government’s interest, while trying to subjugate Pakistan through social media platforms.
There is no doubt that Pakistan, along with ISI, has long been trying to create problems in Indian states. After facing constant failures in Kashmir, they moved the stage to Punjab. Unfortunately, in the wake of Indian farmers protest, today they have the ground campaign and propaganda, along with necessary funds gathered from abroad to support their motives. Blocking Twitter handles and content locally is not the only appropriate step that could end the cycle of chaos since the Khalistan movement is funded by Sikh Diaspora. Today, the movement has spread globally and requires much wider attention and solution.