The project to tarnish Indias image by Bhajan Singh Bhinder-Pieter Friedrich is also evident from the list of media and social media amplifiers.
“While some may have been in actual collusion and some might have been fooled by projection, all of them must be aware about the extent and impact of info-war against India. That they fell for this charade is an irony of epic proportion”, The Disinfolab noted. “Did Pieter got to write articles in ‘prominent’ and award-winning media because hundreds of credible (blue-tick) people followed him, or people followed him because he wrote those articles? Though we are not sure what the list of blue-tick handles in Pieter’s followers say about Pieter, it sure says a lot about the blue-tick themselves”, the report said.
“No amount of OFMI, Bhinder or Pieter could have done any damage to India’s image, or even would have been noticed if it was not for the Indian amplifiers”, the report said.
The report notes that OFMI was part of a very large game-plan, for which preparations were afoot long ago. OFMI was established in 2007 with Pieter Frederick.
At that time India was governed by Congress led UPA. At that time, OFMI and Pieter-Bhinder duo were busy demolishing Mahatma Gandhi’s image.
“Cut to 2019, India is governed by BJP led NDA. This time India is tarnished in the name of Hindutva”, the report said.
“They are no activist fighting for a cause. The one and only agenda is to destroy whatever soft power India has globally – be it non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi to the branding of Yoga as Indian product. Else, one indeed has to wonder, how destroying India’s image of Yoga and Tea was going to contribute to farmers protest or any other cause. There is an even bigger loss than India’s soft image”, the report noted.
Pieter’s credibility was established in India in a rather coordinated manner. In the beginning, his articles started getting published in some non-descript online ‘news media’ platforms such as http://www.countercurrent.org; http://www.clarionindia.net; http://www.twocircles.net; http://www.velivada.com; http://www.thecitizen.com; http://www.antiwar.com; http://www.areomagazine.com; http://www.shilongtimes.com; http://www.sabrangindia.in and http://www.riot.in. These articles were published during 2015-2019.
The report notes that having established his initial foothold, and creating a base for his further launch – he was suddenly getting published in some of the ‘prominent’ online news media – The Wire, The Caravan, and The Quint. All these three platforms published Pieter within a span of 30 days – from 2nd July to 1st August 2019. Eventually, Sikh Siyasat also published his articles.
The report said that these platforms were so eager to provide space to him, that not only they failed to carry a basic check of his background but have also provided random introductions about him. As per the report, The Wire calls him an Amsterdam based Analyst! And The Caravan conveniently took the cover of the fact that he gets published in The Wire and The Quint, but has re-published all of his articles, including those published by some of the non-descript media platforms. Not only this, Caravan Daily’s Twitter handle is also been rather kind to Pieter Fredrich in promoting his articles on its Twitter handle. Pieter is an equally kind person, who returns the favour, the report said.
Pieter opened his Twitter handle in October 2018. Before that he had published just one article in October 2018 on a relatively unknown platform. By then he picked up a decent following, probably by virtue of being a ‘White US Expert’. However, some his early followers were surprisingly big names, who would ordinarily not start following a person so early on unless either a previous connection or been connected through someone – someone who wished for Pieter to become ‘famous’ soon., the report said.
“It is a sad state of affairs that some of the stalwarts of Indian media and gatekeepers of its conscience who keep fighting fake info online seems to have been duped by projection of a ‘White man'”, it noted.
The case of Sameera Khan, the grand-niece of the Bangladesh’s former minister of Foreign Affairs, Morshed Khan is more interesting. She has been one of the initial amplifiers of Pieter Friedrich as well as OFMI. That her association with Pieter is not accidental is also based on the fact that Sameera followed the other handle of Pieter (Singh of Judah) as well, which was barely active and has less than 50 followers, the report said.
On Twitter, Pieter has been endorsed and amplified by some of the most celebrated social media influencers in India. However, the Pakistani influencers beat Indian ones in amplifying Pieter and/or OFMI. From their news channel to Cabinet Ministers, to Businesspersons, to HR activist – all seem to have a stake in safeguarding India’s human rights record and to this noble end they thought it most appropriate to promote a fake expert and a fake organization. One has to wonder, whether they knew something more!, the report said.
Disinfolab said the luminaries that promoted OFMI et. al. included Fawad Chowdhary, Ali Haider Zaidi, Shireen Mazari and Munaza Hassan. Following is a list of prominent Indian and Pakistani influencers who helped Pieter gain credibility for millions of social media users in South Asia, who have started taking his utterances with a lot of seriousness than warranted.
The amplifiers from India as per Disinfolab included Sagarika Ghose(@sagarikaghose) Journalist, Harjinder Singh Kukreja(@SinghLions) Social Media Influencer, Ravish Kumar (@ravishndtv) Journalist, Swara Bhasker(@ReallySwara) Actress, Kavita Krishnan(@kavita_krishnan) Activist, Siddharth(@svaradarajan) Journalist, Rohini Singh(@rohini_sgh) Journalist, Akash Banerjee(@TheDeshBhakt) Youtuber, Sakshi Joshi(@sakshijoshii) Youtuber, Lavanya Ballal (@LavanyaBallal) Social media coordinator AICC, Pankhuri Pathak (@pankhuripathak) Politician, Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) Politician, The Caravan(@thecaravanindia) Media House, Prashant Kanojia (@Pjkanojia) Activist, Ashish Khetan (@AashishKhetan) Politician, Ankit Lal (@AnkitLal) AAP IT cell, Mihir Sharma (@mihirssharma) Journalist, Guru Pitka (@TheGuru_Pitka) Social Media Influencer, Meena Kandasamy (@meenakandasamy) Journalist and Ambedkar Caravan(@AmbedkarCaravan) Activist.
Amongst others who have been most actively engaging and promoting Pieter are Suchitra Vijayan of Polis Project; and Sanjukta Basu.
Some other public figures who have augmented OFMI’s propagandas on social media are Rana Ayuub, film-maker and journalist Vinod Kapri, Dr.Audrey Truschke, Senator Sherry Rehman, Sameera Khan, Dr. John Dayal, Dr. Ashok Swain and Tony Ashai.
One of their initial and prime amplifiers for the OFMI façade has been the “Equality Lab” and the Polis Project. Both, like OFMI claim to be working towards fight of noble causes in India, and both like OFMI are set up and run in the US by American citizens.