On August 20, the last day of a three-day virtual training conference for doctors organised by the Union Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), the secretary of the ministry, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, as heard saying on camera that he would only speak in Hindi as he was not fluent in English.

“Those who want English, those people can leave…I don’t speak English very well, so I will speak in Hindi,” Kotecha appears to declare in a video widely circulated on social media.

His statements came after several doctors from Tamil Nadu sent chat messages during the meet requesting he speak in English, TheNewsMinute reported.

According to a report in The Times of India, Kotecha was seen as unsympathetic and rude to those who made these requests, and he “chose the final day’s session to send a stern warning to those who were raising the linguistic issue”.

“If they don’t understand, we should make them understand,” Kotecha reportedly said during the meeting.

Kotecha, however, has claimed that the original video of his comments was doctored. He said that the web link for the conference was sent to 350 invited participants, but 430 people showed up, and his address was disrupted by “hooligans”, according to a report in The Hindu. Participants have reportedly written a formal letter of complaint to the Ministry of AYUSH flagging discrimination as well as quality issues in the virtual meet.

A video of Kotecha speaking English, seemingly without any problem, at an international conference has surfaced from May this year.