NEW DELHI -- Delhi police has registered a case and interrogated journalist Pushp Sharma about a story that he published recently, saying the government had said in a Right to Information response that it was against policy to hire Muslims as trainers for International Yoga Day events.
Sharma was picked up by Delhi Police Tuesday night for interrogation and let off after four hours of questioning. He has been asked to return to the Kotla Mubarakpur police station today morning with documents. His report first appeared in Milli Gazette.
An FIR under sections 468 (forgery), 471 (using a forged document), & 153A (promoting enmity between different religions) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered on the complaint of the AYUSH Ministry, deputy commissioner of police Prem Nath told HuffPost India, while acknowledging that Sharma was interrogated.
"We have registered an FIR yesterday based on a complaint by the AYUSH ministry," the DCP said. "The interrogation can take place every day if required, since the investigation is ongoing." Sharma has not yet been named as accused in the FIR, according to police sources.
The contentious issue in the case is a document called Annexure I that the government says it never released and Sharma says he received as a response to a Right to Information query. The document contains a line that says "As per government policy, no Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad."
In its denial, the government says it has never provided this document as part of an RTI response. But it has not said whether the information contained in it, which includes the number of Muslim candidates who applied and the number and names of trainers who were selected and sent overseas, were true. In its denial, the government has said that in inviting delegates from overseas for Yoga Day, their religion was not considered. But as Milli Gazette pointed out, that was never the question. The contention is about those who were selected to be sent overseas as trainers.
Sharma told The Wire that cops accused him of fabricating the report, and closely questioned him on who was "behind" the report, and who was "funding" Sharma.
“They claimed that they are in possession of a complaint from the ministry, but never showed it to me. All they had as supporting documents was just one RTI query with some replies," said Sharma. "They insisted that I had fabricated a reply and asked me who was behind me and who was funding me. They only mellowed down after I told them that I have been filing RTI applications for the past 10 years and have been regularly doing stories on that basis.”
“As for the story on the International Yoga Day, I told them that it too was based on an RTI reply and I have documents to support my claims. Then later at night they asked me to go and return with all the RTI applications and replies which I possess. I have been asked to be at the police station again at 11 am on Wednesday.”
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