By Abhimanyu Singh for Youth Ki Awaaz:
In a first-rate political controversy with dangerous implications for the basic structure of the country’s Constitution, a news story by Milli Gazette has made startling claims regarding recruitment of Muslims by the Ministry of AYUSH.
The journalist who wrote the story, Pushp Sharma, filed several RTI applications in the Ministry of AYUSH – short form for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Sidha and Homeopathy. Sharma wanted to find out if any Muslim was sent abroad as a Yoga teacher for short-term assignments pertaining to the World Yoga Day, held last year on 15th October.
None, the Ministry replied, Sharma wrote, out of the 711 who applied and added that 26 Hindu Yoga teachers had indeed been sent abroad for such assignments. Furthermore, it told Sharma that although 3841 Muslims applied for a job as a Yoga teacher with the Ministry, none was selected. It should be noted that we don’t know how many Hindus have been recruited by the Ministry for this purpose.
Moreover, the RTI reply contains a line which has created a furore on social media. It says that as per “government
policy” – no less – no Muslims were “invited, selected or sent abroad”.
However, Shripad Naik, Minister of State for the AYUSH Department, told me that the entire story was “false”. He claimed that the papers had been forged to “defame” the government. He also said that the list of 26 Hindus who had been sent abroad was also “cooked up”.
“We sent no one abroad, neither Hindus nor Muslims,” he told me in telephonic conversation Saturday. He also dismissed the figure of 3841 Muslims who allegedly applied for recruitment as being “false”. “We have no such
vacancies, neither have we advertised,” he claimed.
He said that his ministry was in touch with the Prime Minister’s Office and “action” will be initiated against the alleged culprits. He also summarily dismissed the allegation that the government had any policy of not selecting Muslims for Yoga related jobs. “How can we have such a policy? This is an attempt to vitiate the communal atmosphere in the country,” he told me.
I also spoke to Zafarul Islam Khan, the editor of Milli Gazette. He stood by his story and said that the minister was wrong is accusing falsehood. “All the documents are genuine. We will put out new documents soon that will corroborate our stand further,” he told me.
He also said that the story proved that the government believed only Hindus could practice Yoga.
This is something that the government needs to come clean on and explain properly because this charge won’t wash off so easily.
Which brings us to the worst: if this charge is true, and the government’s secret policy has been blurted out by an unmindful bureaucrat, things have really gone wrong. There can be no greater calamity than for a nation to realise that its chosen government, a protector of its Constitution has been practicing discrimination against a section of its own population on religious lines, thus dismantling the very basic structure of our nationhood – which makes it even more important for the government to come clean and explain the RTI response made.