Congress, on Monday, tried to corner the government on the meeting of an Indian journalist with terror accused Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan, saying it could not have taken place without the knowledge of authorities and claimed the scribe was “very close to Sangh parivar”.
Congress leaders raised in Parliament and outside the issue of journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik meeting the mastermind of Mumbai 26/11 terror attack and asked if the government had sanctioned it.
Congress MPs sought a detailed statement from the government on the “purpose and motive behind the meeting with India’s most wanted terrorist” and even demanded the arrest of the journalist.
“We are going to make an issue out of it because it is not the case of an ordinary journalist. He (journalist) was very close to RSS, closely associated with Ramdev. He has been going to Pakistan and Afghanistan and all the time he is close to the Sangh parivar,” Congress leader Saifuddin Soz said outside Parliament.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley said in Rajya Sabha that Government has nothing to do with “directly, indirectly or even remotely” with any journalist meeting Saeed, adding “government has not sanctioned permission to anyone for meeting him (Saeed).”
But the opposition party kept up its attack saying it was no “ordinary issue” and the scribe could not have met Saeed without the knowledge of Indian authorities.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the country needs to be taken into confidence about this issue. “We have sought from the government that a reply is needed…. Why had Vaidik gone? Is he an envoy or is some back channel diplomacy taking place? This country should know. The nation needs to know, and the nation must be taken into confidence,” Tharoor said.
Another former Union Minister and Congress leader Anand Sharma also said that the government needs to answer whether it was “in the loop”.
“Such meetings cannot take place without the knowledge of the officials. Therefore a legitimate question arises, was the government of India in the loop? Has our foreign ministry received a report?”
He said Vaidik carries an India passport and asked “whether Indian citizens are allowed to spend time with most wanted terrorists”. He said that he did not believe that the government was not aware of the meeting.
“Are we going to allow a situation that anybody with a passport can take a visa and go and meet the most wanted of terrorists responsible for attack on Parliament, for attacking Mumbai. It is a fundamental issue,” Sharma said.
Speaking in the same vein, Soz said, “Meeting a terrorist like Hafiz Saeed is a very dangerous situation for the country. He could not have met without the consent of the High Commissioner. It is in the knowledge of External Affairs and Home Ministry.”
He said, “The issue will be raised as it is not an ordinary issue of a person meeting anybody in Pakistan. He is not an ordinary person. He is the fountainhead of mischief in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
Rejecting the Minister’s explanation, Soz said, “It is not sufficient. They can say they have no truck with Vaidik but we know he is very much well connected with RSS and he is an expert on Pakistan and Afghanistan situation”.
However, Soz added that he is not doubting the credential of Vaidik “as a patriot but this activity is detrimental to the interest of the country. We shall fight it out”.