Indian Americans express grave concern over Washington Post report on Indian Intelligence campaign targeting US critics
Washington D.C. (December 12, 2023) — The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) has expressed grave concern at the findings of Monday’s Washington Post investigation into The Disinfo Lab, an India-based propaganda group that runs extensive disinformation campaigns aimed at silencing and discrediting U.S. government figures, researchers, humanitarian groups and Indian American rights activists and organizations. Among the myriad groups and individuals targeted by Disinfo Lab are: IAMC, Hindus for Human Rights (HFHR), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA 7th District), the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and Equality Labs.
According to the former employees quoted in the Washington Post’s report, Disinfo Lab is led by Lt. Col. Dibya Satpathy, an officer with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external intelligence agency, who is reportedly connected to India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval. Along with a team of over ten contractors based in New Delhi, Disinfo Lab has run extensive smear campaigns with the aid of U.S. based Hindu nationalist organizations, who have distributed the org’s fabricated reports in the halls of Congress and in the California legislature.
In an evident bid to expand the Indian government’s escalating transnational repression campaign, Disinfo Lab reports have falsely presented IAMC as a front organization of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency, while leveling similarly outrageous allegations at U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, who they have falsely claimed to be under the influence of “Islamist funding”. Disinfo Lab reports distributed by Hindu nationalist organizations to U.S. congresspeople show fabricated connections between American Muslim humanitarian organizations and terrorist groups. In California, Hindu far-right organizations used Disinfo Lab reports to suggest that the U.S. based Dalit (the lowest caste in India) rights organization Equality Labs was connected to Pakistani intelligence.
“The Washington Post’s findings should be a wake up call to any Americans still in doubt: the Indian government wants to silence critical voices here, in India, and anywhere else where democratic freedoms come into conflict with their domineering aspirations,” said IAMC executive director Rasheed Ahmed.
“From the Indian government’s alleged assassination attempt of an American Sikh leader to its alleged assassination of Canadian Sikh Hardeep Singh Nijjar, to its organized intimidation campaigns targeting foreign academics and journalists, to the censorship of IAMC and HFHR’s social media accounts, to these latest revelations, the Indian government escalating campaign of transnational repression aims at silencing dissent wherever it arises.”
“US officials must act decisively to deter the Indian government and any of its proxies from making any further incursions into the U.S. political sphere,” stated IAMC President Mohammed Jawad.
Disinfo Lab propaganda has been amplified extensively on social media by senior officials within Indian PM Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, as well as by U.S. based Hindu nationalist organizations, including HinduPact and Hindu Action, both offshoots of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America. Lobbyists of both of these groups have distributed Disinfo Lab reports in various U.S. political venues, including at the 2022 International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C.
IAMC calls upon U.S. agencies, including the FBI and the CIA to immediately initiate an investigation into Disinfo Lab and other Indian-intelligence-run campaigns targeting U.S. organizations and individuals. IAMC also calls upon the US Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service to investigate HinduPACT, Hindu Action, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America for their potential collusion with the Indian government’s campaign of transnational repression.