New Delhi: With Turkey President projecting himself the tallest leader, rather, ‘Caliph’ of the Muslim Ummah by championing the cause of Islamic nations, Turkey has become the breeding ground for anti-India activities. A new Turkey-Pakistan nexus has emerged in the recent past, leading to a complex network of academia, media, and NGOs working to propagate anti-India propaganda.
Turkey has become a backdoor and safe haven for anti-India elements to work on Pakistan's behest as well as the converging point for anti-India actors and Pakistani agencies.
Turkish media platforms are carrying out anti-India propaganda at both the levels - at the level of content as well as infrastructure. The content of Turkish media houses has remained highly critical of the Indian government. Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) and Anadolu Agency have been at the forefront, leading the anti-India narrative. The two news organisations have come up with a barrage of news reports on issues like so-called atrocities on Kashmiris and Muslims and CAA-NRC. Besides broadcast news and news agencies, the Turkish print media is equally indulged in similar activities. Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak on 26" December 2019 published an article titled ‘Gujarat Killer’, attacking PM Narendra Modi and terming CAA as anti-Muslim legislation.
Turkey has not restricted itself to such propaganda within its territory, rather, it has also successfully penetrated the Indian society. Popular Turkish serials like Ertugrul and Baba are circulated widely in the Kashmir Valley, provoking the Kashmiris to wage a war against India for freedom. These serials depict the victory of a small 2000 strong Turkish tribe against the invaders. Transcending the Kashmir Valley, videos of these serials have reached inside the digital gadgets across India, further provoking pro-Muslim sentiments to fight India.
The Turkish media infrastructure is also acting as a platform to bring together pro-Pakistani and anti-India elements together by adopting and employing them within Turkish media houses.
"A journalist from Jammu and Kashmir, now working in Anadolu Agency, earlier worked with many Indian news organisations and closely connected to Pakistani agencies, working at their directions and is actively indulged in anti-India activities in Turkey. He is in contact with Pakistani ISI and planning to launch a website dedicated to anti- India content to further the narratives of ‘saffronisation’ and ‘fascism’ by India.ISI is directly funding the website, which is in the final stage of launching. Observers from the Western countries are the target audience of the website. However, they plan to build a network in India as well. The website might contain a range of content including blogs, infographics, reviews, research papers, primary resources, etc. Based on the modus operandi of similar platforms, the website might be launched as a part of any Turkey-based organisation - to add legitimacy to it." a source aware of this development said Zee News.
Similarly, Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s grand-daughter Ruwa Shah hosts a weekly talk show in English titled ‘The Ruwa Shah Show’ on TRT. The show is promoting the anti-India stance on Kashmir. In like of the above, Ahmed Bin Qasim, son of Muhammad Qasim Faktoo and Dukhteran-e-Millat leader Asiya Andrabi is one of the key contributors to the TRT with an anti-India stance.
" It has also been found that journalists from Turkish media organisations have been able to visit India under the veil of tourist visa to carry out reporting/information gathering from India. India based of these media organisations has been facilitating their visas for India under tourist visa category. Several Pakistani media platforms are also working under the guise of being sub-sets of Turkish media organisations. There are credible pieces of evidence to establish the fact that Pakistani agencies are actively launching several platforms dedicated to producing anti-India content as affiliates/parts of Turkish media organisations/NGOs." a senior security officer told Zee News.
Besides the media, Turkey has also been indulged in promoting and accelerating anti-India activities through educational institutions — in Turkey as well as within India. Turkey has been providing lucrative scholarships and Tunning exchange programs for Indian Kashmiri and Muslim students to study in Turkey through state-sponsored NGOs. Once the students land in Turkey, they are approached and taken over by the Pakistani proxies operating there. Thus, pushing together anti-India agenda.
"The list of organisations providing scholarships to Indian students is long and includes Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), Presidency of Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB), Yunnus Emre Institute (YE), Turkey's Diyanet Foundation (TDV), Turkish Airlines, Anadolu Agency, and Turkey Youth Foundation (TUGVA). Most of these organisations have direct connections with the Turkish Government and President Erdogan. The TYB directly runs under the patronage of President Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan. The organisation never takes the Government of India in the loop of the selection process of students. Once students land in Turkey, they remain out of the radar of the Indian Embassy in Turkey. Similarly, the TUGYS also functions under Bilal Erdogan’s patronage and has made strong inroads within India by establishing connections with Islamic outfits in India." said another source.
Indian security agencies are not ruling out the involvement of the Turkish Embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Hyderabad and Mumbai. Turkish Embassy also maintains a close connection with the students returning to India after the conclusion of their studies in Turkey and engages them in its activities. The returned students also act as facilitators for the scholarship programmes as propagators of pro-Turkish agenda. Indian institutions like Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Maulana Azad National Urdu University run courses in Turkish language and have become centres of activities of the Turkish Embassy.
The most important fact is to note that the students under Turkish scholarship programmes are made to engage in the anti-India campaigns. It has been discovered that a couple of Kashmiri students associated with Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU), under the scholarship of Pakistan government-sponsored organisation Institute of Dialogue, Development, & Diplomatic Studies (IDDS), have been participating in such campaigns. Many of these students have earlier worked for leading media houses in India. Besides Islamic and Kashmiri outfits, the Turkish Embassy has also been forging alliances with Indian NGOs to further its agenda.
Indian ‘activists’ carrying out anti-India agenda are increasingly being sponsored and invited to Turkey. The meetings of these organisations with Turkish diplomats and leaders have been facilitated by Pakistani proxies at multiple instances. A number of these Turkey-based NGO's have also collaborated with and provided space to anti-India voices in the Indian academia and civil society. It is noteworthy that there is a significant Pakistani influence on some of these organisations and the others are run directly by Pakistani proxies.
The TDF is a part of the religious directorate of Turkey, now deployed with Erdogan supporters, has been tasked to build Erdogan’s image as the tallest and disputed leader of the Muslim Ummah by championing the Islamic cause. The Diyanet has succeeded to made inroads amongst the Indian Muslims, seeking their support as well as provoking them to take on the Indian nation-state.
Besides these coverts designs, Turkey has also resorted to few open and brazen anti-India moves. To magnify and converge the strength of anti-India elements, Turkey has been pro-actively issuing citizenship to Indian Kashmiris engaged in promoting pro-Pakistan narrative. The list of such individuals includes Baba Umar, Riaz-ul-Khaliq, Tasheen Nazar, besides others. Most of such individuals have been employed by either of the three sectors: Turkish state media, non-profit organisations, and educational institutions.
Pakistan has been an age-old friend of Turkey and was one of the first countries to support Turkey in the foundation of an alternate organisation to the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). The two countries have been working in tandem to overtly and covertly take on India, reflected by the recent statements of President Erdogan on Kashmir as well as the increasing anti-India activities in Turkey.