03:43 GMT19 January 2021
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    EU DisinfoLab, a European non-profit organisation, has questioned the role of a private Indian news agency, ANI, in spreading misinformation about Pakistan and China on a global level. In a report called "Indian Chronicles" it alleges that the agency has created a web of fake media companies and NGOs to promote New Delhi's foreign policy interests.

    A Brussels-based non-profit, EU DisinfoLab, has "shed light" on a 15-year pro-India influence operation supposedly backed by 750 "fake media outlets" covering 119 countries to "discredit" India's rivals Pakistan and China on the global stage.

    The pro-India disinformation purportedly peddled by the fake media outlets was actively disseminated in foreign countries by New Delhi-headquartered Asian News International (ANI), according to the "Indian Chronicles" report released by the European non-profit organisation on Wednesday.

    "... the only valuable coverage these op-eds are gaining comes from an immediate repackaging by an Indian press agency ANI (Asian News International), often quoting these op-eds as genuine articles from independent media EU Chronicle", the report's findings say.

    Stating that the "pro-India influence campaign" was still ongoing, the report alleges that even now, ANI remains the only press agency to cite items produced in some of "dubious" media outlets found to be controlled by the Srivastava Group.

    ANI is said to have "amplified" content in 116 countries and nine regions, according to the report.

    Another significant "finding" in the 89-page report claims that at least 10 defunct NGOs, many of them linked to the United Nations and with a track record in human rights advocacy, have been revived and taken over by the Srivastava Group.

    "These UN-accredited NGOs work in coordination with non-accredited think tanks and minority-rights NGOs in Brussels and Geneva", says the report.

    "Several of them – like the European Organisation for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), Baluchistan House, and the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) – were directly but opaquely created by the Srivastava Group", it adds.

    The Srivastava Group, a Delhi-based entity, attracted media attention last year after it was found that a lesser-known think tank, the Indian Institute of Non-Aligned Studies (IINS), was behind a visit by a delegation of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to Jammu and Kashmir last year.

    The MEPs, many of them from right-wing parties, even paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the trip.

    In a blaring instance of identity theft as part of the campaign, it was found that even dead individuals had purportedly been brought back to life to support the campaign.

    Louis B Sohn, the "grandfather of international law in the US", passed away in 2006. As part of the "Indian Chronicles" campaign, he is said to have attended a "Friends of Gilgit-Baltistan" event that took place in Washington DC in 2011.

    The extensive set of findings released on Wednesday marks the second time EU DisinfoLabs has pointed the finger at New Delhi for backing a "disinformation" campaign in Europe and other regions. Last year, the non-profit organisation claimed that 265 "fake media" organisations were peddling "negative content" about Pakistan.

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