The Fugitive Khalistani extremist Amritpal Singh is yet to be nabbed by the Punjab police. Throughout the campaign aiming his arrest, there have been acts of vandalism and violence from his supporters all across the world. In general the supporters of the idea of Khalistani Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
The Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) at the State University of New Jersey released a research paper stating some supporters of the separatist movement are using automated Twitter accounts to promote acts of vandalism.
Notably, the paper was published on April 11 at the website of NCRI. In this 29-page journal, “Inauthentic, cyber activity from Khalistani extremist accounts precedes and amplifies attacks on Hindu temples and Indian government buildings”.
The researchers have analysed the data and Tweets in general of vandalisation and arson by some accounts. These accounts are using tactics like deleting the Tweets afterwards to refrain from suspension.
The Overview of the Research:
- Sikh separatists (known as Khalistanis) have engaged in vandalism against Hindu houses of worship and Indian government buildings in the US and abroad.
- Cyber social Khalistani extremist rhetoric is growing in intensity and frequently amplifies calls for attacks and celebrates vandalism against Hindu houses of worship and Indian government buildings.
- Evidence of numerous, interconnected social media accounts, including numerous self-identified Pakistani accounts, exhibit signs of coordinated inauthentic behavior.
- Online postings contain threatening language advocating the use of weapons e.g., bomb threats, grenade attacks and attacks against infrastructure are actively encouraged by these bot-like accounts.
- NCRI assesses that attacks against both Hindu houses of worship and Indian government buildings are likely to come under direct threat internationally, which may merit a heightened defensive posture by law enforcement officials and social media platform trust and safety teams; this assessment is supported by the recent escalation of unrest in Punjab.
The NCRI found 359 accounts active in the campaign since January. They often worked in networks of 20 to 50 accounts to promote messages or videos, many of them featuring the founder of U.S.-based Sikhs for Justice, which is banned in India. Each account would tweet the same thing dozens of times, tagging different journalists and other public figures to build visibility.
“When you look at the escalation and the intensity of the rhetoric, and how that precedes the events that take place in the real world that result in vandalism or violence, that’s where the concern is,” said Jack Donohue, chief operating officer at the NCRI and a former head of cyber intelligence at the New York Police Department quoted the Washington post.
The research justifies the Pakistan links of these bots as, about 20 per cent of the accounts identified as part of the Twitter networks claim to be located inside Pakistan. And some of them have tweeted that Sikhs should be thankful for Pakistan or in support of one of the major Pakistani political parties, as per the report.
“Involvement by a self-identified Pakistani network of putative SFJ supporters thus suggests not just bot-like activity but raises the possibility of a broader effort for covert influence,” quotes the report.
Also, “The fact that this network of self-identified Pakistani accounts amplifies attacks against Hindu houses of worship, agitates for terror and attacks Indian consulates, aligns well with Pakistani strategic interests.”
There are many such reports published on the platform including Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, Leicester violence, Hamas and Isrel conflicts and also on How Hinduphobia is growing in the social media space.
Readers can go through the overview of the study on the study ‘Anti-Hindu Disinformation: A Case Study of Hinduphobia on Social Media’ published last year.
- NCRI detected recent surges in derogatory posts toward Hindus present on subcultural social media platforms including 4Chan, Telegram, and Gab. We found anti-Hindu memes, hashtags, and slogans growing prolifically across these fringe online platforms as well as Twitter.
- NCRI’s previous analysis shows that extremist content targeting specific vulnerable communities on social media are an upstream predictor of real-world violence against those communities.
- State actors use Hinduphobic tropes as part of large-scale information operations. Using Twitter’s information operations dataset, NCRI examined more than 1 million tweets and found evidence that Iranian trolls disseminated anti-Hindu stereotypes in an effort to inflame division and accuse Hindus of perpetrating genocide against minorities in India.