Journalist Pushp Sharma, who had alleged in a news report that the AYUSH ministry of the Narendra Modi government discriminated against Muslims while appointing yoga instructors, has now written an open letter in which he claims that he still stood by his original report and that the system was engaging in arm-twisting.
"It seems the system is hell-bent to do character assassination, arms-twisting and stoops to the extent of mockery and issuing threats just because of a story. I will revert with another exposé on Yoga soon, if I continue to have my freedom," Sharma said in his message, which was published in The Milli Gazette.
Sharma's message to his readers comes at a time when he is likely to be arrested for alleged misreporting on this issue. Sharma was questioned by the police for the second day on Wednesday, PTI had reported.
"He was called for questioning in the afternoon. Questioning is still going and arrest is likely," a senior police officer had said.
Sharma in his letter also said that the "globally accepted norm" for a government response to a story in the media would have been "to provide its version which is later published or uploaded by the editorial board of the publication after consulting legal experts".
He added that when he told the police about what the response to his story should have been, he "heard just abuses, and shouts and allegations".
A case was registered against Sharma, who works with The Milli Gazette, at Kotla Mubarakpur police station on Tuesday night on charges of promoting hatred among communities and forgery. This was after a complaint lodged by a senior AYUSH Ministry official.
The Ministry had earlier condemned the "misreporting" which it claimed was aimed at causing a "chasm" between different sections of society and "promoting disharmony and mistrust with ulterior motives."
"The Ministry of AYUSH has noted with anguish certain mischievous misinformation being spread in certain section of media and social media quoting a reply to an RTI by mentioning a fabricated draft as Annexure I to that letter, which has never been issued by the Ministry of AYUSH or any of its agencies.
"The Ministry strongly condemns this piece of misreporting, clearly aimed at causing chasm between different sections of society and promoting disharmony and mistrust with ulterior motives," the Ministry said in a statement," the AYUSH ministry had said in a statement.
A senior police officer had said that Sharma had earlier been arrested in 2009 on the charge of extorting money from government officials by threatening sting operations on them.
(With agency inputs)