No Muslims allowed in Ayush ministry: report

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre does not recruit Muslims in the Ayush ministry as a policy, a news report said quoting an official right-to-information reply.

The report by the Milli Gazette, an influential fortnightly newspaper highlighting Muslim issues, could give the opposition considerable ammunition to target the Narendra Modi government, which it accuses of running an agenda of turning India into its version of a Hindu state.

Sripad Naik, the minister in charge of Ayush, blasted the report as being ''false'', and said that it was ''an attempt to defame us''.

The admission by the ministry – formed to promote alternative treatments like ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy –  came in response to a series of RTI applications by journalist Pushp Sharma, who had sought to know the number of Muslim yoga teachers and trainers hired for foreign assignments during the first World Yoga Day on 21 June 2015.

''As per government policy no Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad,'' the ministry was quoted as saying.

The online version of the Milli Gazette report also carried visuals of the alleged RTI replies.

The ministry said that 711 Muslims had applied for the short-term overseas assignment as yoga trainers but none was selected. A list of 26 selected trainers, all Hindus, was also provided by the ministry.

The ministry also rejected till October 2015 the applications of 3,841 Muslim candidates who had applied to be yoga trainers, apart from the yoga day assignments outside the country.

After the United Nations declared 21 June as the World Yoga Day, Modi said that the recognition was proof 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''.

In stinging comments at the end of the report, the Milli Gazette said, ''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 the Modi government's policy not to recruit Muslims in government jobs''.

The opposition accuses the Modi of pursuing an overtly anti-minority agenda and of failing to reign in fringe groups from targeting minority institutions.