Activists of Shiv Sena and Dogra Front burn an effigy of Ved Partap Vaidik during a protest in Jammu on Tuesday. (PTI)
New Delhi, July 15 (PTI): Congress today upped the ante against the government over journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik’s meeting with Hafiz Saeed with Rahul Gandhi asking whether the Indian embassy facilitated this for the “RSS man”and the party asking BJP to clear the “lurking suspicion” around the event.
However, the government today condemned Vaidik’s meeting and said it has sought a report from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad about whether they were aware of this.
Rahul asked: “The question is did the Indian embassy facilitate the gentleman (Vaidik) or not. We are curious to find out if Indian embassy has facilitated this event. If they helped this gentleman in any way. That’s what we are curious about.”
Replying to a question about Vaidik, he said: “Yes, he is an RSS man. That’s a known fact.”
The issue rocked both Houses of Parliament for the second day today with the Opposition raising questions over the meeting. “The government of India totally disapproves of this meeting of Ved Pratap Vaidik... The government condemns this meeting with the chief accused of Mumbai terror attack,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha.
She insisted the government has nothing to do with it and ”nothing to hide”. A full report has been sought from the Indian High Commission in Pakistan and it will be shared with the House, she promised. Her response came as the Opposition attacked the government over the meeting, saying its silence is intriguing and questioned how the Indian mission in Islamabad was not aware of it.
The members also wanted to know if any action would be taken against Vaidik. In the Lok Sabha, Swaraj said the government has nothing to do with the journalist meeting India’s one of the most-wanted terrorists in Pakistan recently.
“Allegations that the government facilitated the journalist’s meeting with Hafiz Saeed is false and baseless,” Swaraj said. “I am saying with full responsibility and very categorically and unequivocally that the government is in no way associated with this meeting. Neither did he (Vaidik) while going to Pakistan, nor after going there, inform us that he was meeting Hafiz Saeed. This is purely a private visit and a personal meeting,” she said.
At the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said he was “intrigued by the trail of revelations” that are coming out on a daily basis regarding the event more so as Vaidik while being a columnist was also the “spokesperson of a yoga guru, who was the ideological guru of the BJP’s PM candidate and carried out that party’s propaganda” in the run-up to the polls.
“Now a new revelation comes that Indian High Commission in Pakistan knew about the meeting with Saeed and Vaidik...there are successive revelations that are leading to the trail of unsolved mysteries and is leading to lurking suspicion in people's mind whether Vaidik went to meet Saeed as a journalist on his own or he was sent on behalf of somebody in the government,” the Congress spokesperson said.
Surjewala added: “If that is so, it is indeed serious. The government needs to seriously clarify the meeting.”