Bengaluru, Sept 14: The Karnataka police have registered an FIR against anchor Sudhir Chaudhary for “conspiring to disrupt communal harmony” in a show hosted by him on the Aaj Tak news channel during which he talked about the state government’s commercial vehicle subsidy scheme.
Chaudhary was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for promoting enmity between groups by the Sheshadripuram police in Bengaluru, based on a complaint filed by an official of the Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation.
In the show, Chaudhary had 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.
While Chaudhary is accused number one in the case, the chief editor and the organiser of Aaj Tak are accused number two and three respectively.
After the show was aired on the channel on September 11, the Karnataka government had threatened legal action against the anchor for deliberately spreading misinformation on government schemes. The schemes offered subsidies for members of the minority community to buy commercial vehicles.
An advertisement published in a newspaper about the scheme had also triggered a row as BJP MPs alleged that the scheme highlighted ‘minority appeasement’ under Congress rule.
On its part, the government maintained 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 the Bharatiya Janata Party rule.
Karnataka IT/BT minister Priyank Kharge had posted on X after the show was aired, saying it was “deliberate & malicious” and that the government would take necessary action.
The decision to file an FIR against the anchor was criticised by BJP MP Tejasvi Surya, who accused the Karnataka government of going on a “witch-hunt” against the anchor for asking legitimate questions about the implementation of a government scheme.
“This state led witch-hunt is a direct assault on the freedom of press. Whether it’s political opponents or independent media that asks uncomfortable questions, the Congress Govt is going after everyone by abusing the law,” Surya said in a post on X.