No role in journalist’s meeting with Hafiz Saeed: govt

Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha says govt had “not sanctioned” meeting; asserts there is no change in its stand on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind


Reports said Ved Pratap Vaidik, a freelance journalist, had met Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed in Lahore on 2 July while touring Pakistan with a group of journalists and politicians. Photo: HT
Reports said Ved Pratap Vaidik, a freelance journalist, had met Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed in Lahore on 2 July while touring Pakistan with a group of journalists and politicians. Photo: HT

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on Monday distanced itself from the reported meeting of Ved Pratap Vaidik with the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack accused Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan, saying it had “not sanctioned” it and asserted there is no change in its stand on the alleged terror mastermind.

Vaidik, a journalist who is close to yoga guru Ramdev, met Saeed during his recent visit to Pakistan. Ramdev is considered to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress members in both Houses created an uproar and sought detailed statement from the government on the “purpose and motive behind the meeting with India’s most wanted terrorist”. Digvijay Singh asked in Rajya Sabha whether the government had sanctioned the meeting, leading to an uproar.

Union defence minister and Rajya Sabha member, Arun Jaitley, replied that for India, Saeed was a terrorist and indeed involved in terrorism against India. “Government has nothing to do with directly, indirectly or even remotely with any journalist meeting Saeed...government has not sanctioned permission to anyone for meeting him,” he said.

“For the government, there is no change of stand as far Hafiz is concerned. For India, Hafiz is an accused in the terror attack. He is a terrorist who conspired to attack India,” information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters outside Parliament. The minister said there is no “track-2 or track-3 diplomacy” involved and that for the government, “Hafiz is a terrorist. Rajya Sabha leader has already clarified it in the House.”

Vaidik met Saeed, chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the parent organization of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, in Lahore on 2 July while touring Pakistan along with a group of journalists and politicians invited by a peace research institute. With the Congress seeking his arrest, Vaidik defended his parleys with Saeed, saying he has been meeting all kinds of people. He also rejected suggestions by Congress that he might have acted as government’s envoy, saying he was “nobody’s envoy but my own”. India has accused Saeed of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were killed.

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