UPDATED STORY (March 13, 2016, 1.30 a.m.)
The Ayush ministry today claimed that the RTI reply published by the Milli Gazette, according to which it follows a discriminatory recruitment policy of not sending Muslims as yoga instructors abroad, is a "fabrication". However, the reporter and the newspaper today maintained that they stand by the story.In a statement issued today, the Ministry of Ayush expressed "anguish" over the fact that certain "mischievous misinformation is being spread" in certain sections of media and social media. The statement claimed that "a fabricated draft", according to which "as per government policy, no Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad" as yoga teacher, was annexed to the RTI reply. Alleging that the "misreporting [was] clearly aimed at causing chasm between different sections of society and promoting disharmony and mistrust with earlier motive", the statement said the ministry is initiating "appropriate action" in the matter.
Meanwhile, the Milli Gazette which had published the report by Pushp Sharma has stated on their website that the reporter stands by his story and that "the Ayush Ministry’s rebuttal to our story is factually incorrect". However, the editor of Milli Gazette, Zafarul Islam Khan told SabrangIndia late tonight that "the ministry is talking about a different RTI filed by the same journalist at about same time, and concerns foreign yoga experts invited to attend the Yoga conference last year while our story talks about Yoga teachers sent out from India". The MG website has posted 44 pages of RTI replies to support of its contention. The Ayush ministry's reply is in 'Annexure 1' - the authenticity of which is being challenged by government - was provided in October 2015 and was published by Pushp Sharma in the latest issue of Milli Gazette.
In a sensational yet blunt statement, Modi Government’s AYUSH Ministry has said that as per government policy, it does not recruit Muslims. This unconstitutional reply came to light after an RTI application was filed with a query about the Muslim teachers and trainers recruited by the Ayush Ministry for foreign assignments during the World Yog Day last year (2015).
Pushp Sharma of The Milli Gazette has filed this exclusive report. The investigative journalist filed one RTI application after another until the ministry finally accepted that it had recruited no Muslim as a trainer/teacher of Yoga for foreign assignments during the World Yog Day 2015. In its reply the ministry said, a total of 711 Muslim yoga trainers had applied for the short-term assignment abroad but none was even called for an interview while 26 trainers (all Hindus) were sent abroad on this assignment.
The reply also revealed that 3841 Muslim candidates applied until October 2015 for the post of Yoga trainer/teacher with the Ministry but none was selected.
The RTI reply of the Ayush Ministry bluntly revealed the reason for the rejection of all applications by Muslim Yoga teachers as follows: “As per government policy – No Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad.” The reply also makes it clear that even for an assignment within India no Muslim was selected, although a total of 3841 Muslims had applied for the yoga teacher jobs.
This puts to shame the claim of the Modi government and its slogan of “Sabka sath, sabka vikas.” Institutionalised prejudice and othering has been now taken to a unique level. For the first time, we have a written, blunt RTI reply from government which unashamedly says that it is the policy of the Modi government not to recruit Muslims in government jobs. This admission was received in reply to an RTI.
The reply makes it clear that a total number of 3841 Muslims applied for Yoga trainer/teacher jobs to the Ayush ministry, including 711 Muslims who applied for short-term jobs as Yoga teachers/trainers in foreign countries but none was selected. The reason: it’s government policy not to recruit Muslims! This reply pertains to a certain scheme in a small ministry. But what are the wider implications of this policy across the government and its various ministries?
The Copy of the RTI reply from the Ayush Ministry can be read below
The Milli Gazette filed an RTI at the Ayush Ministry asking:
* Please provide the details, how many (total numbers) Muslim candidates had applied for short-term abroad assignment (Trainer/Teacher) during World Yog Day 2015?
* How many Muslims applied for the post of Yoga Trainer / Teacher so far?
The written answer from the Ayush Ministry dated 8 October, 2015 is blunt and clear:
* As per government policy: no Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad.
* A total of 711 Muslim candidates applied for short-term abroad assignment (trainer/teacher) during World Yog Day 2015.
* A total 3841 Muslim candidates applied till date (for the post of Yoga Trainer / Teacher)
* Selected candidates: Nil.
(See the RTI reply facsimile)
This not only exposes the Modi government’s communal agenda but is, in all likelihood, the first such reply by any government in independent India which states that as per policy, Muslims are excluded from recruitment.
First published by The Milli Gazette.
Note: This story was edited at 1.30 a.m. on March 13 to incorporate the Ministry of Ayush's statement and the response of Milli Gazette.