Update No. 2: The ministry of Ayush has denied that it had issued the RTI response that Milli Gazette has published. Milli Gazette continues to stand by its story, saying the reporting involved multiple RTI applications and that it will be publishing more information online shortly.
Update: This story has been updated to include the comments of Zafarul Islam Khan, the editor of Milli Gazette.
NEW DELHI -- Bhartiya Janata Party leader Shripad Naik, who heads the Ministry of AAYUSH, has denied sending out a Right To Information response which said that it is government policy not to hire Muslims.
On Friday, Milli Gazette published an RTI response from the government, which said that it did not hire Muslims for short-term positions as trainers for World Yoga Day as it was against government policy. "As per government policy – No Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad," the RTI response said.
Referring to the RTI response, Naik told HuffPost India, "This is totally bogus and fabricated."
AYUSH stands for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, and is the Ministry that promotes these branches of traditional medicine.
Naik said that he would make available the actual response from the Ministry of AAYUSH, but we are yet to receive an email.
Milli Gazette editor Zafarul Islam Khan said the "minister is lying". "The documents are 100% genuine. And there is an entire series of correspondence that we will publish online today. It is only after we sent a lot of questions that they were forced to reveal this, they did not give this information so easily," he said.
In its RTI response, carried by Milli Gazette, the Ministry said that none of the 3,841 Muslim candidates, who had applied for the position of Yoga trainer or teacher till October 2015, were hired by the AYUSH Ministry.
It also revealed that none of the 711 Muslim yoga trainers, who had applied for the foreign assignment during the World Yoga Day, were hired.
Despite several attempts, Naik did not give a direct answer to whether Muslims were hired for short-term positions as trainers for World Yoga Day. "We do not see who is Hindu, Muslim or Christian. Everyone was accommodated," he said.
HuffPost India also reached out to the S.D. Sharma, Under Secretary to the Government of India, who has signed the RTI response, and his name is also listed in the officials of the Ministry. Sharma said that he did not write the response, then he said he has left the ministry and finally he asked this reporter to speak with his bosses.
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