On Monday, The Times of India published a news report titled “RTI: Threats to Hinduism ‘imaginary’, says Union home ministry” that claimed that the Union Home Ministry led by Amit Shah has ‘categorically stated’ that Hinduism faces no threats.
The news report was originally filed by news agency IANS, but The Times of India was the major national publication to carry and amplify it. Among others who carried this news item were Hindi daily Dainik Jagran and Congress party’s mouthpiece National Herald.
The report was used by many on social media to take political potshots at the BJP and to further propaganda like ‘Hindus can never be victims’. However, a closer look at the said ‘news report’ reveals that it is full of misinformation and work of propaganda in itself.
The news report was allegedly based on an RTI reply given by a Union Home Ministry official to a query filed by a certain Mohnish Jabalpure from Nagpur, who is identified as an ‘RTI activist’ in the news reports. The report though relies much on Mohnish’s interpretation of the RTI reply rather than the actual reply.
RTI reply on ‘Threats to Hinduism’ was twisted in news reports
Firstly, the fact is, evident from the published news reports itself, that the Union Home Ministry never used the word “imaginary” in its RTI reply. That claim was made by the alleged RTI activist and the media put that in the headlines without critical examination of that claim.
Home Ministry official had essentially said that the Ministry doesn’t keep records of any crime or information categorized as being possible threats to various religions. Therefore it was not in a position to give details of or list ‘threats to the Hindu religion’, which is what the RTI query sought.
It should be clear that government indeed doesn’t categorize any pieces of information in such a manner in their records. In all probability, a similar answer would be given for any RTI query that seeks details of ‘threat to Islam’ or ‘threat to liberal values’ for example. Such topics are in the realm of political debates, not record keeping.
Further, it is a basic logical fallacy to assume that ‘absence of evidence is evidence of absence’ that somehow escaped the media outfits and the alleged RTI activist. That is, even if one assumes that Home Ministry has no record or evidence of threats that Hindu religion faces, it doesn’t prove that no such threats exist. Therefore, twisting this RTI reply to mean that threats are non-existent or ‘threats are imaginary’ goes against basic accepted logic and is a mischievous act.
The ‘RTI activist’ is a self-declared Congress supporter
The alleged RTI activist Mohnish Jabalpure, who framed this question in a way that can be spun to mean ‘threats to Hinduism imaginary’ is not some independent RTI activist but an active and vocal supporter of the Congress party.
The Twitter bio of Mohnish reads “congress whistleblower” and his account is full of him sharing praises for Congress party and its leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Digvijaya Singh. Mohnish regularly shares even tweets by junior Congress leaders from Maharashtra, painting him a loyal Congress supporter rather than some independent activist. All other tweets by him are against the BJP or the RSS. It is likely that he filed this RTI query and then twisted the reply for political gains.
Therefore, the mainstream media, especially the Times of India, used words of a Congress supporter to claim something that was never categorically said by the Union Home Ministry in the first place.