A deserted road in Delhi on the first day of total lockdown Monday | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
A deserted road in Delhi in the wake of the total lockdown in Delhi (representational image) | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
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New Delhi: As India continues to fight the onslaught of coronavirus, a ‘deliberate disinformation campaign’ is being run by Pakistan to ‘instigate’ Indian Muslims to violate the nationwide lockdown announced by the government, a Delhi Police report claims.

Earlier, Indian police officials had found that Pakistani social media handles had spread fake news among Muslims in India during the riots in northeast Delhi in February end. According to Delhi Police sources, a similar campaign is now being carried out to disrupt the 21-day lockdown.

A report, titled ‘Project Digital Vaccine: Weaponising Disinformation to Destroy COVID19 Lockdowns’, prepared by cyber experts of Delhi Police’s Special Branch, stated: “Several of the videos (circulated on social media in the last one week) appear to be shot in Pakistan and Middle East but audio in Hindi has been superimposed to create a Hindi video.”

“Videos of Muslims refusing to get themselves tested and beating medical personnel are also being spread with request to do the same and inspire other Muslim brothers. These disinformation/fake news videos watched by millions of users may end up influencing the thoughts of a large section of people in the targeted religion,” the report stated.

“Timely removal and quick rebuttal of such deliberate disinformation campaigns/fake news is required to ensure Indian citizens from all religions strictly follow the national mission of social distancing and adhere to the lockdown guidelines to avoid large gatherings,” according to the report, which has been accessed by this writer.


Also read: Asians will become the new Muslims — how coronavirus will change our world like 9/11


Videos with fake news have huge audience

The report also claimed that popular Chinese video-making app TikTok is being used to spread fake information regarding Covid-19.

“TikTok, a chinese-origin video-sharing app, is being used as a primary medium to create and spread videos with religious instigation against health advisories and fake information regarding coronavirus. These videos are further shared on other platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.”

“Initial investigation reveals hundreds of high impact professional videos with disinformation/fake news are being spread to stoke religious emotions in Muslim community against social distancing and lockdown guidelines,” according to the report.

A senior official of Delhi Police told ThePrint that videos containing fake information are being watched by millions of people.

“Thousands of users have shared or viewed these videos on Twitter and TikTok alone and they have spread (those videos) widely through platforms like WhatsApp. Initial analysis of these viral videos reveal more than 10 million users have already watched them, suggesting a high degree of impact in society.”

The videos are shot in either Hindu or Urdu, indicating “specific targeting of audience” in India, added the official.

“Several of the original uploaders are deleting their accounts after the videos, which they have made, go viral suggesting deliberate disinformation and propaganda campaigns,” the police official, who did not wish to be identified, said.

The Tablighi connection

The report claimed that police have identified some specific social media accounts engaged in spreading fake news.

“YouTube channels with lakhs of subscribers have uploaded videos and audio of sermons of Maulana (Muhammad) Saad, asking Muslims to make fun of social distancing and to ignore government directions,” according to the report.

Maulana Saad, who is now absconding, had hosted the now-infamous Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin’s Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid in Delhi.

Delhi Police has registered an FIR against Saad and others members of the Tablighi Jamaat under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly violating government orders with regard to holding religious gatherings and maintaining social distance.

The Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters, which operates from the Nizamuddin mosque, has become one of the major coronavirus hotspots in the country.

More than 2,000 people, including foreigners and Indians from across the country, had participated in the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Nizamuddin in mid-March.

Tablighi Jamat was set up in 1920s in India and its international headquarters, or markaz, has been in Nizamuddin ever since.

The Delhi Police report stated that videos of Maulana Saad have been uploaded mainly on two YouTube channels — ‘The Message of Islam’ and ‘Delhi Markaz’.

“‘The Message of Islam’ has 119 thousands subscribers and 12,186,776 total views, whereas ‘Delhi Markaz’ has 195 thousands subscribers and 16,759,795 total views. Both channels have deleted some of the videos,” the report said.

It further said that ‘The Message of Islam’ channel has posted a new video, claiming there was not a single positive Covid-19 case in the Markaz.

“The channels also host a separate playlist of preaching of Pakistani religious preacher Maulana Tareeq Jameel, who is a Tablighi leader in Pakistan. He has historic association with terror elements such as Masood Azhar,” the report added.

The writer is CEO of Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, an RSS affiliate, and author of two books on the RSS.


Also read: Why Pakistan is the most chilled out in a world hit by coronavirus


 

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20 Comments Share Your Views

20 COMMENTS

  1. Is there a report by Delhi police really exists?? Or this is too a fake news?? Please let everybody see the genuin report by Delhi police cyber cell. Upload that report and prove that this news is based on facts.

  2. Why such over action by Delhi Police & Media against Tablighi Markaz. Indians are under Covid-19 threat. People with Anti-Muslim/Islam DNA Genes are busy to exploit, to satisfy their grudge/enmity against Muslims. Is any crime actually committed by Markaz? Is there actually violation of law/rules? How Media spreads false/fake news to defame Markaz; others are forwarding as national religious duty. Are other religious leaders also being treated equally for Covid violation? Let all Indians pray for health/ safety of all Indians & help each other, instead of playing all dirty games. Is Delhi Police acting honestly or is witch hunting? Will it strengthen war against Covid-19 or weaken? Millions of Indians consider it as dishonest attempt to defame/criminalize Markaz; may be due to ignorance and lack of education. Falsity spreading Media and rumor mongers cannot change their DNA/Genes; will continue nefarious activities but truth will prevail. All alleged offences against Markaz are bailable, triable as summons case (petty case), not as warrant cases, by Magistrates and not by Dist. Judges. Markaz will be made to suffer till cases end in acquittals on facts & law. False cases booked against Markaz, to please particular religious groups, must be closed to uphold honest seculars’ belief in rule of law.

  3. Facebook should be banned in India. Even after reporting Fake profile and Fake groups, Facebook not blocking such persons. The ISI and Bangladesh terrorism groups entered various Facebook and posting Fake videos

  4. Sheeth,

    Let me tell u one thing , we being citizens its our duty to obey rules of lockdown , our govt has imposed lockdown for our safety, our family,

    Let me tell u one thing , doctors are those people who never see religion , they treat patients on humanity basis, they throwing stones at doctors? is that right? no this is not right

  5. We all should report any such video and post we find on social media platforms. I have reported such videos on YouTube and Twitter, sadly these companies don’t take quick action. Govt should tell these Social media companies to remove such content and ban IP addresses of such users. All the facts mentioned in this article are correct. We can see the results of this fake news, Indore and Ghaziabad and very recent cases.

  6. We all should report any such video and post we find on social media platforms. I have reported such videos on YouTube and Twitter, sadly these companies don’t take quick action. Govt should tell these Social media companies to remove such content and ban IP addresses of such users. All the facts mentioned in this article are correct. We can see the results of this fake news, Indore and Ghaziabad and very recent cases.

  7. As a pakistani although we have huge issues and will be there until our all issues not resolved, we appreciate what steps Modi took to tackle the horror of pendimic and we really sad when see issues specially from Indian muslims. So think for your own faults and try your best as without that you can’t succeed. We also made lots of mistakes that create problem now but hope we will get and fight hard without blaming others.

  8. Whether Tablighi Jamaat did anything deliberately or not is not the point.
    These audio tapes of Maulana Saad confirm that he was propagating ignorance and making his believers take on risks and endanger others.
    Such ignorance alone should not be allowed and this organization should be severely restricted in future. The same curbs should be put in place on Temples and Churches if they too had big congregations, with or without any Corona spread.
    The biggest enemy of society is promoting ignorance.

  9. Shame on the Print for acting as mouthpiece of fascist RSS and creating a negative impression against Muslims of India. Print is now the new ‘Organizer’.

    • Did the facts hurt your sentiments??? Muslims account for majority of the Covid cases in Bharat and they have got this because of their stupidity. It is irrelevant to them (Muslims) that even Saudi Arabia has shut down all the holy shines like Mecca Medina. But no Muslims in Bharat must pray in their mosques.
      If praying in your Mosques is so important then why in normal circumstances do you lay your mats to pray in railway stations and roads, why don’t you find your nearest mosque then?

      • It’s all about collective ego. They don’t like being told what to do by the infidels. Tell them to dance in the streets and they’ll go in

  10. How much low will DP stoop? They are being more loyal than their King Amit Shah. Pathetic and nauseating statements from Tadipar’s riot army.

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