The Bengaluru police have charged popular news anchor Sudhir Choudhary and news channel Aaj Tak with spreading “fake news” about a Karnataka government scheme for members of religious minority communities.
After the show was aired on the channel on September 11, the Karnataka government threatened legal action against the anchor for purposely spreading fabrications about government schemes. The schemes offered subsidies for members of the minority community to buy commercial vehicles.
A newspaper advertisement about the scheme also sparked controversy, with BJP MPs alleging that it highlighted ‘minority appeasement’ under Congress rule. The Karnataka police have filed a FIR against anchor Sudhir Chaudhary for “conspiring to disrupt communal harmony” during a show on the Aaj Tak news channel in which he discussed the state government’s commercial vehicle subsidy scheme.
On its part, the government maintained that the scheme has been in existence for several years under different development corporations meant for the welfare of various communities. Similar schemes existed for other groups too, the government said, adding that the subsidy scheme for minorities existed even under Bharatiya Janata Party rule.
In the show, Chaudhary allegedly claimed subsidies were being provided only for minorities in Karnataka and not for Hindus, the FIR said. “The show claimed that the scheme meted injustice to poor Hindus in the state” and “conspired to disturb communal harmony in the state,” according to the FIR.
The Sheshadripuram police in Bengaluru booked Chaudhary under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for promoting enmity between groups, based on a complaint filed by a Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation official.