Communalism

Reporter Cites RTI on Discrimination Against Muslims, Yoga Ministry Says Document is Forgery

UPDATED STORY

AYUSH ministry says RTI reply showing it follows a discriminatory recruitment policy of not sending Muslims as yoga instructors abroad is a ‘fabrication’ but the reporter and newspaper which released the documents stand by their story

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the mass yoga session on International Day of Yoga 2015 at Rajpath in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the mass yoga session on International Day of Yoga 2015 at Rajpath in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist

New Delhi: The Ministry of AYUSH, the Central department responsible for implementing International Yoga Day, has denounced as a “fabrication” a document published by a weekly newspaper, Milli Gazette, which indicated the government had a policy of not inviting, selecting or sending abroad Muslims to serve as trainers/teachers during World Yoga Day 2015.

However, Milli Gazette, which published the document as part of a story by the investigative journalist Pushp Sharma, insists the “ministry’s rebuttal … is factually incorrect” and that  it stands by its original story.

Pushp Sharma told The Wire on Saturday night that the document in question was sent to him by the ministry via the normal RTI process and that he has preserved all the receipts and envelopes.

In support of the AYUSH ministry’s charge of fabrication, the Press and Information Bureau released what it said was the ministry’s reply to an RTI query by Sharma in which it was categorically stated that invitations were sent to yoga enthusiasts “without reference to their religions.”

However, the document in which the ministry made a candid admission of discrimination on the ground of religion came in response to a separate RTI application by Pushp Sharma. In his query, Sharma sought information on how many candidates from the community had applied for the post of teachers or trainers of yoga. To this, the ministry had replied that “a total of 711 Muslims had applied for the short term abroad assignment”.

The ministry also said that a total of 3841 Muslim candidates had applied till October 2015 for the post of yoga trainer/teacher with the ministry but none was selected.

The ministry’s reply is in ‘Annexure 1’ – the authenticity of which the government is now challenging – was provided in October 2015 and has been published by Sharma in the latest issue of Milli Gazette.

MG RTIIn it, the ministry – which deals with ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy – states that the reason none of the 26 trainers sent abroad on this assignment was Muslim was because of “government policy”.

In the article, Sharma comments on the “sad situation under a government which does not tire of raising the slogan of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ … Here we have, for the first time in the life of this government, a written, blunt RTI reply in our hands which unashamedly says that it’s Modi government policy not to recruit Muslims in government jobs.”

Stating that the reason given by the ministry was even more obnoxious as it terms it a “government policy”, Sharma said, “this reply obviously concerns a certain scheme in a small ministry. You can only think of the wider implications of this policy across the government.

Incidentally, World Yoga Day was organised for the first time on June 21 last year after the United Nations had acceded to the demand of the Government of India to declare the day as such. In several countries across the globe, events were organised to mark the occasion. In India, the main event took place on Rajpath, where Modi had in his address said: “Rajpath became ‘Yogpath’ on World Yoga Day. World Yoga Day tells us that the world is curious to know about India and we must tell the world about our culture, we have to be proud of our culture.”

While some Muslim organisations had vehemently opposed participation in yoga events, saying the ‘surya namaskar’ or the chanting of ‘Om’ went against their religious tenets, many from the Muslim community had participated in these events and even trained others for them.

The Wire had asked minister of state (independent charge) for the Ministry of Ayush, Sripad Naik, why it is government policy to not hire Muslims as yoga teachers. His ministry now insists the RTI document on which Milli Gazette’s story is based is a fabrication.  The Milli Gazette editor and Pushp Sharma, on the other hand, insist the replies were all received from the ministry in the normal fashion and has uploaded the relevant envelopes and receipts  as a PDF file.

Note: This story was edited at 10 pm, March 12, to incorporate the Ministry of AYUSH’s statement and the response of Milli Gazette and Pushp Sharma.

  • Hitesh V

    Yes….Muslims oppose ‘Surya Namshkar’ and chatting ‘OM’. As per them, it is anti-Islam.
    Now both above are essential part of Yoga. So how government can send them as teacher who doesn’t like to perform essential part of Yoga.
    The wire is known for its ‘anti-Modi’ stand and just trying to create sensational by this news….

  • Venkat Parthasarathy

    But last year, You (the media) was ranting – Modi is enforcing Yoga on Muslims, we will not let this happen. Yoga is against the basic teaching of Islam, Modi does not understand complex culture of India, Modi is targeting Muslims by yoga… Now this???

  • PRASAD SN

    This is just a query. Is n’t asking a Muslim candidate to do Yoga ( a Hindu practice) or become its teacher against the Shariat Laws? or isn’t it an intrusion into the Muslim Personal laws?

  • kapil bajaj

    This article is clearly tendentious and mischievous because you are avoiding even a superficial balancing of the issue.

    You are omitting to mention the very serious — even dire — censures that the Ulema (scholars of Islam) have publicly voiced against Yoga.

    You are omitting to mention the pitched battles that the Ulema as well as Muslim leaders — of both ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ variety — have fought in Madhya Pradesh against making yoga a part of routine in government schools.

    You are not telling the readers how the publicly voiced opposition to Yoga has affected the Muslim peoples’ views to Yoga and how a Muslim person choosing to practise yoga is likely to be seen within his community.

    You are deliberately avoiding telling your readers how saying Om — an essential part of Yoga routine — by a Muslim practitioner would be seen by their community and the Ulema.

    You are mischievously avoiding the question as to how the public posturing of Ulema and community leaders has affected the government policy — especially when there is absolutely zero — zilch — publicly voiced support for yoga within the Muslim community.

    So if government policy were actually to be inclusive of the Muslims, there are sure to be shrill remonstrance and protests against it, even charges of communalism against an “RSS/Hindutva” government.

    So the space to formulate public policy in this matter has been besieged and crowded narrow by mischievous people crying “communalism” and “Hindutva/saffronisation”.

    And you are spreading misinformation by this kind of tendentious reporting. It’s shameful!

  • PRASAD SN

    Is n’t it against Shariat/Muslim personal law to include them in a largely Hindu practice of Yoga?

  • swathikrishna guru

    This is ridiculous. The news intended to to defame the goverment by creating such issues. There is no such policy like muslims are denied to be part of Ayush as yoga trainer. There were many muslims working for Ayush as yoga trainers and last time in UP yoga session has been conducted by an NGO which was running 2 musliim couples. Actually the aspirants applied for the yoga trainer was lakhs in number and there are only very few muslim applied for this. There should be a reason why those are deined , because religions is not the qualification to become a yoga trainer and there is no special quota for muslims.

  • HATEHYPOCRITE

    Gaurav Let any True Muslim (by birth and not the converts and pseudo) come forward and blame modi goverment for this. Then will see.. you psuedos create problems which are nto their and then keep on ranting…

  • Sam KBose

    Failure will always make these attempts. What else BJP/RSS Can do?

  • Zaki Ghulam

    Please note that the question is not whether Yoga practices are compatible with Islam. That is something individual practitioners of the Muslim belief can examine and decide for themselves. As far as a govt job is concerned, citizenship rights cannot be excluded to a section of citizens. As the Constitution envisages a secular society, the policy of religion-based discrimination against the Muslims is deeply flawed and unjust.

  • sokradhar

    Uploading the envelop proves nothing. Ayush never said Pushp Kumar didn’t file an RTI request.