Madi Sharma, she of the European MPs’ Kashmir visit fame, is back in the limelight.
EU Disinfo Lab, an independent platform fighting disinformation related to the European Union, has tweeted a 2017 email from Sharma’s obscure think tank WESTT to former European Parliament president Antonio Tajani, indicating that it is a lobbying group.
In the email, WESTT inquires about the procedure that the European Parliament followed to choose MEPs for European Parliament Missions to non-EU countries.
“As a civil society organisation working to promote human rights…we are interested in understanding how we can successfully contact EP members prior to their official visits to non-EU countries,” the email reads. “In the past we have been unable to identify which MEPs will be participating in foreign trips (prior to their departure), thus limiting our ability to raise concerns we believe the MEPs should be aware of.”
The Oxford English dictionary defines a “lobby” as a “a group of people who try to influence politicians on a particular issue”. While Sharma claims to lobby for the rights of women and children, her modus operandi and political networks raise many questions.
In 2018, WESTT wrote another email to Tajani, this time asking him to “endorse” an article on religious freedom in Pakistan. The article was supposed to be published in EP Today, a publication that syndicates Russian and American propaganda, gives space to pro-India content, and has links to the Srivastava Group, which runs New Delhi Times.
EU Disinfo Lab uncovered links between EP Today and WESTT. It found that people working at WESTT had bylines in EP Today as “Europe Desk Correspondents”.
In October, Madi Sharma and WESTT came under the scanner after it emerged that it had organised the unofficial visit to Kashmir of 23 MEPs, many of whom had right-wing affiliations.
Newslaundry reported at the time that at least two of the 23 MEPs had earlier been accused of being a part of “fake observation missions”. You can read our report here.