Sidhu Moosewala’s killing sparks Pak-based disinformation campaign

Pakistan-based social media accounts are spreading unsubstantiated claims and theories about the circumstances around the death of famous Punjabi rapper Sidhu Moosewala to create a tense environment within the country, a new report revealed on Thursday.

While investigations around the gruesome killing have just begun, there has been a coordinated activity from Pakistan-based accounts about his chilling death.

The Pakistan-based accounts are appropriating the death of the singer to trigger further tension within India, according to data provided by Logically, an AI platform that combines advanced AI with human intelligence to tackle fake news and online disinformation.

Various accounts were using the hashtag #SidhuMooseWala, #SidhuMooseWalaDeath and #RAWKilledSidhuMooseWala on Twitter.

Of these, the #SidhuMooseWala hashtag garnered the most engagement — 389,000 mentions on Twitter, and 9,629 posts on Facebook.

Many Pakistan-based Twitter accounts were using #SidhuMooseWala.ASome of these hashtags are being used in conjunction with other hashtags such as #SikhGenocideContinues.

“These posts are referring to Operation Blue Star, a military operation carried out by the Indian government in June 1984 and the Anti-Sikh pogroms of 1984,” the report mentioned.

Moosewala’s death came a few days before the anniversary of ‘Operation Blue Star’.

A network analysis based on a limited data set of over 1,900 accounts found a network of accounts displaying hallmarks – including slogans and images noted in previous disinformation campaigns — of coordinated Pakistani influence operations.

“The accounts resemble many of the pro-Pakistani networks previously taken down by Twitter and Facebook,” according to Logically.

Some accounts claimed that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was somehow involved in the shooting.

“This includes the handles of journalist Raja Faisal and TV actor Sehar Shinwari, both of whose accounts are verified,” the report noted.

Journalist Faisal even claimed that the Moosewala was outspoken against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hindutva ideology.

Accounts with an image ‘Ghulami na Manzoor’ by supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan have also been actively tweeting the same narrative.

Separately, an account that claims to belong to a nonprofit organisation based in the US, Central Human Rights Forum (@RightsCentral), “called the Indian government fascist”.

“The account was created in May and had only 25 followers. Its first tweet was on May 29, 2022. In an apparent attempt to show authenticity, the account has retweeted content from April and March 2022,” the data further showed.

Other narratives have alluded to the rise of “Hindu extremism”, claiming that Muslim and Sikh minorities are not safe in India.

Proponents of pro-Khalistani narratives have been quick to exploit the murder.

A Twitter account by the name of Defend Pakistan (@def_pak14) claimed that he was killed by an “RSS Death Squad”.

Moosewala, 28, one of the most famous Punjabi language singers of the current times, was shot dead on May 29 while he was travelling in a car and around 10-12 assailants fired over 30 shots at him.

He was found soaked in blood on the driving seat of the Mahindra Thar SUV.




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