According to latest reports, Delhi Police has taken the controversial reporter Pushp Sharma for questioning in the case of a fake RTI query that claimed that the Ayush ministry of the Government of India had a policy of not hiring Muslim yoga teachers.
The fake RTI query was part of a report filed by Pushp Sharma, which was circulated by many portals and news agencies that cited it as a proof of Modi government faltering on its “sabka saath, sabka vikaas” promise.
The report was later declared false and malicious by the ministry, which clarified that it had no such policy. The report by Pushp Sharma had quoted response to an RTI query to prove that the ministry has such a policy, but the ministry declared the response fictitious and forged.
While issuing the clarifications, the Ministry had said that it will take appropriate action against people who had created the forged document (the response to the RTI query), which could have damaged harmony in the society.
In his defense, Pushp Sharma had rather ludicrously claimed that the fake document might have been mailed by someone in the ministry who didn’t know the facts. The document in question was an unsigned annexure that was not found to be part of any official communication.
Even if the claims of Sharma are to be believed, he (and other media organizations) should have been careful in putting up that annexure, which now he himself finds dubious.
The damage was already done and the yoga push of the government was seen as anti-Muslim attempt, even though the government had selected an NGO run by a Muslim couple to organize events on International Yoga Day. Not only that, Ayush ministry was already employing many Muslims so such a policy couldn’t have existed:
As Principal Secy, Ayush, Rajasthan, I condemn the fabricated story put out by @svaradarajan. Unani branch of Ayush is almost 100% Muslim
— Sanjay Dixit, IAS (@Sanjay_Dixit) March 12, 2016
The incident had caused a lot of anger and outrage online and many people had demanded action against the erring parties. Following the outrage, Ayush ministry had filed a formal complaint with Delhi Police asking them to probe the incident.
On Tuesday night, reports came in that Delhi Police has started its inquiry and taken Pushp Sharma for questioning. The action of police, which is logical given the gravity of the complaint and crime (forgery to harm communal harmony in the country), was already being given a “spin” by some journalists on Twitter when reports last came in.
This is the second time the controversial reporter Pushp Sharma has been picked up by the police for questioning. Back in 2009, he was arrested on charges of extortion and forgery when he tried to create a fake sting operation and blackmail a police offer. Interestingly, even after extortion charges, he was hired by Tehelka as a journalist.