In a rapidly unfolding controversy, journalist Sudhir Chaudhary, anchor for the Hindi channel Aaj Tak, finds himself entangled in a legal battle with the Karnataka government. The government has accused him of spreading deliberate and malicious misinformation concerning a subsidy scheme meant for commercial vehicles. This dispute has escalated quickly, with Chaudhary now claiming that the state government has filed an FIR against him, including non-bailable offences.
Chaudhary's Response on FIR
Sudhir Chaudhary took to his social media account during the late hours of Tuesday and Wednesday to inform the public about the FIR against him. He expressed his readiness for the legal fight and his willingness to meet the Karnataka government in court.
His initial query was regarding the exclusion of the Hindu community from the 'Svalambi Sarathi Scheme', which offers a 50 percent subsidy on commercial vehicles to religious minorities with an annual income of less than Rs 4.5 lakh.
The Karnataka government, under the leadership of the Congress party, has accused Chaudhary of spreading misinformation about the subsidy scheme. The program aims to provide financial assistance to religious minorities, including Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Parsis, to purchase commercial vehicles.
Karnataka Minister of Information Technology & Biotechnology (IT/BT), Priyank Kharge, condemned Chaudhary's reporting as deliberate and malicious and threatened legal action.
Kharge's warning to the news anchor is a part of the Congress government's new policy on fact-checking, designed to counteract the spreading of false information that could disrupt peace and harmony in the state. However, it should be noted that the subsidy scheme predates the Congress government, as per government officials and official documents.
Details Of The Subsidy Scheme
Under the 'Svalambi Sarathi Scheme,' beneficiaries who have been approved for bank loans to purchase autorickshaws, goods vehicles, or taxis are entitled to a 50 percent subsidy of up to Rs 3 lakh. Eligibility is based on membership in religious minorities, an age range of 18 to 55 years, and an annual income below Rs 4.5 lakh. Beneficiaries should not have availed of benefits from any other scheme of the Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation Limited in the past five years.
The scheme had been in existence before the new government came into power, with funding allocated for religious minorities to acquire small commercial vehicles. Under the leadership of former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, adequate funds were released for this purpose.