The mystery around the death of Karima Baloch, a human rights activist, has raised questions on intelligence agencies in India and Pakistan. Social media is abuzz with blaming India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Baloch escaped from Pakistan in 2016 and fled to Canada. The 37-year-old was a staunch critic of the Pakistani government and had campaigned for Balochistan’s separation from Pakistan, reported Scroll. Local media reports stated that Baloch went missing on Sunday and her dead body was found in Toronto.
Her brother and husband have called for an investigation as they claim that Baloch has been murdered but the officials in the Toronto police department have termed her death as “non-criminal,” the Baloch Post reported.
Karima Baloch’s husband Hammal Haidar tweeted calling for a further inquiry. “Karima Baloch’s death needs further inquiry. My wife was an immensely courageous and spirited person. Her work as an internationally prominent activist speaks for itself.”
“I believe it’s our right to request the Canadian authorities to leave no stone unturned in looking into the circumstances of her death as well the threats she had been facing since moving to the country. We have cooperated with the police and will continue to do so,” he further said.
I believe it’s our right to request the Canadian authorities to leave no stone unturned in looking into the circumstances of her death as well the threats she had been facing since moving to the country. We have cooperated with the police and will continue to do so. 1/2
— Hammal Haidar (@HammalHaidar) December 23, 2020
Netizens have reacted to the news of Baloch’s death on social media with hashtags like #RAWKilledKarima and #StatekilledKarima and #ISIkilledKarima are trending. In an investigation by BBC, it found out fake news being shared on social media.
Karima Baloch, the exiled #Baloch leader whose dead body was found at Harbourfront Toronto, speaks against the Pakistan Army(PA) Officers who are being settled in Canada and also vocal against atrocities committed by PA in #Balochistan. #ISIKilledKarimaBaloch pic.twitter.com/Vz4aZ8GkDu
— (((7ru7h))) (@7ru7h_1) December 22, 2020
Hear #KarimaBaloch call out the Pakistani Army's attrocities in Balochistan and highlight how Canada is giving space and opportunity to the same Army to threaten and torture the Baloch in Canada. How right she was…#ISIKilledKarimaBaloch pic.twitter.com/TQDZ7cgizC
— ???????? ?? ℑ???? (@DefenderOfInd) December 22, 2020
One such account, BBC reported, is a user named Michail Boris who claims to be a Political & Defense Analyst from Russia with the main focus on South Asia. His bio states that he’s been a journalist for 20 years.
He claimed in a tweet that Karima Baloch was killed by RAW as she was working for the agency and after the EU Disinfo lab’s report, she was killed.
“Anti Pakistan Activist #KarimaBaloch found dead in Toronto Canada. RAW is killing their assets after EU disinfo report which expose Indian state sponsor terrorism. She was playing in the hand of RAW. Now she had been exposed so RAW is cleaning it’s mess,” he tweeted.
The BBC FactCheck team found that the photo on the Twitter account is a stock photo which was also used in 2018 on a blog site called Elena’s models. Reportedly, the text from his account has been copied and tweeted by several other accounts.
There are other accounts also claiming RAW’s role in Baloch’s death. These posts on social media claim that after EU Disinfo Lab published a report claiming that the report mentions Karima Baloch as a “facilitator of RAW.”
EU DisinfoLab is an independent European Union (EU) non-profit group that is tasked with tackling sophisticated disinformation campaigns targeting the EU, its member states, core institutions, and core values.
— FahimKhan (@_POH16) December 24, 2020
Indians are perplexed now and are trying to use #KarimaBaloch to malign Pakistan and Balochistan. After @DisinfoEU’s #IndianChronicles expose, India was going divert the attention of the world. Hence, the death of Karima Baloch. #KarimaBaloch #RAWKilledKarima
— Asadullah Mirani (@AsadullahMirani) December 24, 2020
It published an investigative report on December 9, a 15-year-old influence operation “targeting international institutions and serving Indian interests”, which was done primarily through resurrecting “dead media, dead think-tanks and NGOs” – and in some cases, “dead people”.
The social media posts that claimed this report revealed that Baloch was a RAW facilitator are false. Karima Baloch’s name is mentioned in the report but not as a RAW agent but as a speaker to the United Nations who was called by an NGO named Africa, the BBC report stated.
The EU Disinfo Lab report said that the NGO was fake but in a way say that the speakers or their speeches were in any way a problem. Several posts also claim that Karimi was killed by ISI as she has been critical of the Pakistani Army and the government.