NEW DELHI: Portals and groups such as Hindutva Watch and India Hate Lab are the brainchild of Pak deep state.

Foreign-based “research groups” that are the brainchild and are being funded by various arms of the Pakistani deep state, are recruiting Indian nationals, working in Western countries, to run these groups and portals that have been specifically created to spread misinformation about India at the international level.

The reason behind having Indian faces in these groups and portals is to add legitimacy to their claims about the rising “hate” in India.

According to intelligence agencies tracking these groups and portals, the “research work” done by these groups and portals is then given a larger audience and more legitimacy by members of the Washington-based mainstream media.

Inputs and assessment seen by The Sunday Guardian related to some of these portals and groups such as “Hindutva Watch” and “India Hate Lab” clearly show that they are the brainchild of and were brought into existence by well-established names of Pakistan’s deep state, including the India-focused Jamaat-e-Islami. According to a probe done by intelligence units, Hindutva Watch first came on their radar in 2019 when a Twitter account was launched in that name followed by a website. For four years, it continued to be active, working anonymously, working without revealing who was actually handling it.

However, in January 2023, in an interview to a Western media outlet, Raqib Hameed Naik, an Indian national from Doda district, Jammu and Kashmir, claimed that he was the man who was running the site. This claim is false, as inputs seen by The Sunday Guardian reveal.

The fact that the media outlet published the words of Naik, without cross-checking the same with easily available facts on the internet, suggest that either it was done deliberately to strengthen the disinformation campaign against India or it was a work of careless research and vetting.

As per publicly available information, after completing his Masters’ degree from India, Naik went to the UK for further studies in journalism. After coming back, Naik’s name was “forwarded” and “recommended” by the soft arms of the Pakistani deep state, as per the claims of the intelligence agencies, to global media outlets so that his “anti-India” stance could get a global audience.

In 2020, after being questioned by Indian security agencies on his “rabid, baseless” anti-India commentary in the global media and the reasons, if any behind it, Naik left India and settled in the United States without facing any difficulty—the US is a country which claims to have one of the most stringent policies when it comes to accepting foreign nationals. As per the agencies, after that, Naik was asked to come out in the open by his “handlers”, which prompted him to say he was the man behind the two anti-India portals.

However, the investigating agencies claim that they have evidence that these two sites were being run by Pakistan based handlers for a long time before Naik falsely claimed as being the man behind them.

As per information seen by The Sunday Guardian, Hindutva Watch was being handled by Sardar Adil Kayani—an anti-India operative, who also runs propaganda for Pakistan’s PML-N party. Much of the content that is used on the site is misleading and based on fake news with the intent to incite communal friction in India.

After getting information that the origin of Hindutva Watch has been discovered by Indian agencies, the Pakistani deep state brought into existence another project, “India Hate Lab” that too started manufacturing a narrative to target India in a more sophisticated manner. In January this year, it peddled disinformation by misrepresenting a Statista report stating that India ranks number 1 in misinformation and disinformation.

Kayani is a well-established name in anti-Indian propaganda. In 2017, he launched a “signature campaign” on Kashmir on Change dot org seeking “Free Kashmir” demand. He is also closely working with another covert arm of Pakistan’s deep state, “Global Village Space”.

The inputs seen by The Sunday Guardian suggest that Naik was working closely with the leading Pakistani Jamaat front in the US, Justice For All (JFA), which was founded by Jamaat leader Abdul Malik Mujahid. Incidentally, JFA also owns the Muslim Network TV.

According to these inputs, Naik, before he moved to the US, was closely working with portals that are a part of information warfare network run by Jamaat loyalists indicating that he was being “groomed” for a prominent role by the handlers of this information warfare. Once in the US, he was supported by Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), and Justice For All (JFA), both groups whose closeness to Pakistan’s rabid Islamic groups and deep state has been well documented. These groups have been using their resources to influence US watchdog United States Commission of Religious Freedom (USCIRF) so that it can recommend actions against India. Naik too was used as a tool in this endeavour.

The content of Hindutva Watch and the people behind it were a focus of a documentary that was published by a Singapore-based entity, which was directed and produced by a Pakistani origin and US-based filmmaker, who is well known for the person’s anti-India stance.

Emails sent to Naik and the portals for a response from their side on this report elicited no immediate response.

In December 2021, Naik was awarded for reporting on Kashmir, Indian minorities and Hindu nationalism by a Pakistan Jamaat front founded by Abdul Malik Mujahid, and which also runs Justice For All.

(With Reporting by Sunday Guardian Live)