External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday condemned the meeting of former journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik with 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan.
The issue continued to rock Parliament with three adjournments in Rajya Sabha as the Congress questioned why Vaidik chose not to write about the meeting in his article on the Pakistan trip. Members also asked why Vaidik, who went as part of a delegation that included former ministers Salman Khurshid and Manishankar Aiyar, was allowed to stay on in Pakistan when the rest of the delegates returned within three days.
In her statement in the Upper House, Swaraj said the meeting was not authorised by the government and Vaidik did not given any information about the meeting either before or after it. “The government disapproves of this meeting… There is no silence on our part, no intrigue either. This was not a back channel initiative. The government condemns this meeting with the chief accused of Mumbai terror attack,” Swaraj said.
She added that the government has sought a full report from the Indian High Commission in Pakistan and it will be shared with the House, when it comes. “We got to know about the meeting as you did through the media,” she said.
Responding to Swaraj’s statement, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad pointed put that it is a matter of grave concern if the Indian High Commission in Pakistan did not know about the meeting.
Earlier, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the House that the government had nothing to do with either the visit or the meeting between Vaidik and Saeed. “It is a diplomatic misadventure of a private individual,” he said.
The Congress was joined by members of the SP and BSP in raising the issue even as Chairman Hamid Ansari said it had been raised on Monday and the government had already replied. As the Opposition raised slogans demanding Vaidik’s arrest, Ansari adjourned the House for 15 minutes. Similar scenes were witnessed when the House reassembled and the Chairman adjourned the House till noon.
Vaidik ‘mediated’ between Advani, Mulayam during Babri Masjid movement: Beni
Even as the controversy over the meeting of journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik with 26/11 terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed stalled the Parliament Tuesday, former Union minister Beni Prasad Verma alleged that in 1990, the journalist had acted as a “mediator” between BJP leader L K Advani and then Uttar Pradesh CM Mulayam Singh Yadav when Babri Masjid movement was being given shape.
Mulayam was then heading the Janata Dal government in the state (1989-1991) and Beni Prasad Verma was a cabinet minister in the state government. “I do not exactly know if he (Vaidik) has RSS links, but during Babri Masjid movement in 1990, Vaidik used to come to Mulayam as an emissary of Advani. He was close to both Mulayam and Advani,” Beni said. ENS