Pak Unleashed Cyber Terror On India Amid Dubai Peace Talks
(This was originally posted in The Sunday Guardian by Abhinandan Mishra)
New Delhi: Pak Unleashed Cyber Terror On India Amid Dubai Peace Talks Two days before Republic Day, Delhi Police Special Commissioner of Police (CP) Deependra Pathak, while addressing a press conference, had stated that they had got irrefutable proof that more than 300 Twitter accounts that were being operated from the geographical limits of Pakistan were creating a situation that would spread anarchy during the farmers’ protest.
All this was happening even as an Indian team of intelligence officers was holding “sanctioned-secret” talks with their Pakistani counterparts in Dubai on how to resolve the tension between the two countries.
The Sunday Guardian has accessed the details of one such Twitter account, which was continuously tracked and marked by members of an Indian intelligence agency. It was the report created by this agency’s men which revealed how anti-Indian entities in Pakistan were using the farmers’ protest to damage the social fabric of this country.
The claims made in the report are backed by digital proof, which establishes beyond doubt the origin of the tweets and the handlers, who were a part of the team that was composing the tweets.
In the first step, these cyber terrorists created a fake Twitter handle impersonating an Indian Sikh and this (non-existent) Sikh gentleman became one of the first handles that started sharing pictures and messages with the message—(India is against Sikhs/Jinnah was Right).
The idea behind using a Sikh fictitious identity was manifold, officials revealed—to malign the Sikh community in the eyes of the common Indian, and to lend credibility to the Twitter handle, as the majority of the protesting farmers were Sikhs.
As expected, once the tweets of this Sikh gentleman got amplified thanks to the efforts of the cyber team of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)—the ruling party of Imran Khan Niazi—these were used by select Pakistani media outlets to run a full-blown story, in which one of the subjects was how “Jinnah was right” about the treatment of minorities in India.
The name of this fake Twitter account was Damanjeet Singh, who was tweeting with the username @DamanjeetaSingh and was praising Jinnah and alleging mistreatment of Sikhs in India. And within hours, due to the fact that it was re-shared by the official handle of PTI, and by state-run Pakistan radio, it got more than 9,000 retweets and 31,000 likes. The post which had used #IndiaShutDown was picked up by Pakistani news websites such as the Voice of Sindh, The Dailymail Pak, and Newsupdate.pk as a story.
The same tweet was also re-tweeted by well-known Pakistani influencers like Nazia Rubani and Fiza Batool Gilani who is the daughter of ex Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.
Once the handler of the Damnjeeta Singh Twitter handle became aware that he was being “followed” and had been identified, he deleted all his previous posts and changed its name to Voice of Youth Pakistan@Voice_YP. The Voice of Youth Pakistan is still operational and is run by @TahirMYasin and @IfraAkram. The Twitter handle has now become a defender of Islam.
Eventually, on 24 and 25 December, on the birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the same message was used by PTI (#JinnahWasRight). The hashtag, posted by a fake Pakistani handle in the name of a Sikh separatist, along with the screenshot of Damanjeet Singh’s tweet also then trended on Pakistani Twitter for two days. The same hash-tag was used by PTI, several Pakistani news channels, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information, Government of Pakistan, and many other prominent Pakistani Twitter accounts.