Intimidation of Pushp Sharma and the future of Indian democracy

Freelance journalist Pushp Sharma, who broke the story that AYUSH Ministry, which promotes traditional medicine systems, does not hire Muslims for short-term positions as trainers for World Yoga Day as it is against government policy, was taken in by the police for questioning on March 15th. He was released at night after interrogation, and asked to report again to the police station on the 16th.

The AYUSH Ministry had filed a formal complaint with the Delhi Police asking them to probe the alleged ‘fake’ response to an RTI query on which Sharma based his story.

The Milli Gazette which published the story, and Sharma himself, stand by the story.

For the story with updates, see this story in Huffington Post.

For an interview with Sharma just before he was taken in for questioning, see Sabrang.

After his temporary release last evening, Sharma wrote a letter to his readers in which he said that he had told the police that the internationally accepted procedure if a news story was contested, was for those challenging the veracity of the story to send the relevant documents. These documents are cross checked, and if the story turns out to be wrong, then a correction and apology are published.

Why is the AYUSH Ministry not releasing documents that prove Sharma’s claim to be false? Why has a journalist been handed over to the tender mercies of the Delhi Police, simply for writing a story? At the police station, he says, “I heard just abuses, and shouts and allegations, like: who is behind you and what is your motive?”

If the AYUSH Ministry believes that its credibility is dented by the “fake” RTI response, it needs to demonstrate that in fact it has not followed such a policy. For instance, release the original pages of the file that Sharma has allegedly falsified. There are legal routes to follow in the case of defamation, setting the police on a journalist who wrote an inconvenient story is unacceptable. It has never happened before that an RTI user has been put through police interrogation like this, says a story in The Wire. The story also says:

Meanwhile, Zafarul Islam Khan, editor of Milli Gazette – which ran Pushp Sharma’s story, told The Wire that while he had read in some newspapers about his newspaper being charged under Section 153-A of the IPC for promoting hatred among communities and Section 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), he has neither received notice of this or a call from the police.

An overall atmosphere of intimidation and suppression of criticism of discriminatory policies of the government is being put in place. The portents are grim.

7 thoughts on “Intimidation of Pushp Sharma and the future of Indian democracy

    1. Nivedita Menon

      The article that Periscope links to is in Hindi. It says that Pushp Sharma has been involved in sting operations that expose the Hindu Right, such as one that was conducted 6 years ago by Tehelka and Headlines Today, which revealed that Sri Ram Sene and its leader Pramod Muthalik take money to start riots. Since 2010, says this article, Pushp Sharma has conducted sting operations that have embarassed the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. Is this the reason, asks the article, that Pushp Sharma is being intimidated by police action?

  1. rrajesh31

    The article also suggests that Pushp Sharma has a dubious background, that he is accused of blackmail using a sting operation, that he was hired by Amit Shah to gather evidence in his favour in the false encounter cases, that Sharma also conducted a reverse sting and gathered evidence against Shah, Prakash Javadekar and Bhupender Yadav, that following a dispute with Shah over payment, he released the reverse sting findings to the media. and he has been on the BJP’s hit-list ever since. What can one make of all these claims by Media Vigil attributed to confidential sources in the media?

    1. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ipiindia-award-for-tehelka-the-week/article2568418.ece

      This doesnt need any certificate from anybody now. His work speaks it self. Moreover if you can prove what you have said then any body shall believe it otherwise making allegations is very easy. India is a place where people put mud on religious gods even.

      It takes great courage to fight against system and why he is doing this? He is getting paid for this? He belongs to minority community? He raised social issue that’s it. May be you are paid to write to against him.
      see this http://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/press-council-takes-note-of-milli-gazette-case/296759
      even Press council of India is concerned for his safety.

      Abdul karim Tunda , the alleged terrorist was created by police see this http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/delhi-court-discharges-let-bomb-expert-abdul-karim-tunda/article8318199.ece

      and Indian courts released him since entire story was cooked up by police. So don’t say anything against him unless you can prove this.

    2. Your own words prove that mentioned journalists is smart if he is hired by Amit shah and at the same time he does sting against him. Where is the proof of money exchange here? Boss you are making just allegations. It takes guts to stand against government. He has shown this and that’s what he was supposed to do as journalist. He wrote an article and it reached far and wide honestly.
      Do you think any government will admit what he has shown? In Bengal Mamta men caught on camera taking money ….will they admit?
      Bangaru lakshman caught on camera taking money , did he ever accept his fault?
      No politician admits his fault even when he/s is caught red handed. Let government come clean with evidence but so far they didn’t come clean in this matter. We have heard slap a case kill the career and that’s what they are trying to do with pushp and he boldly stood beside his facts, irrespective to power used against him. It’s called honesty and guts. He did a story and challenged the government and has put entire ministry on back-foot. Don’t dare to call such man opportunist and if you say then why dont you prove which can prosecute him in courts.

  2. When tragedy of 26/11 took place , there were people like you who had said Indian government was involved in this.

    When painful day of 9/11 fallen on humanity there were people who said CIA and MOSAD was behind this.

    See his work and he has raised a simple issue which is prima facie unconstitutional , if such policy exists. I don’t mind accepting version of ministry and minister but to say a journalist wrong you need to give proof. Lots of journalists took ministry right when they said they had hired minority people in past. But its over 2 weeks now , still ministry not mentioning a single name from minority? What’s wrong in releasing new list if ministry thinks they have list of originals. In fact new documents have been issued by him where a padamshri awardee is seen doing criminal act by recruiting his own daughter and even Delhi police is given complaint regarding this.

    Don’t think government can intimidate writers. activists, students , journalists.

    Why not a case on Arnab and sudhir on running doctored videos of JNU students?

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