Govt has nothing to do with it: Jaitley Leader of the upper House and finance minister Arun Jaitley said for India, Saeed was a terrorist and indeed involved in terrorism against India. Government had nothing to do with “directly, indirectly or even remotely” with any journalist meeting Saeed.

NEW DELHI (TIP): The Congress and other Opposition parties kept up the pressure in the Lok Sabha on July 17 over RSS leader Indresh Kumar’s defence of journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik’s meeting with Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, compelling External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to make a second statement on the subject in one week. Swaraj told the Lok Sabha that the Indian High Commission in Pakistan was unaware of Vaidik’s meeting with Hafiz Saeed. “The Indian High Commission has categorically stated that it did not know about this meeting.

Therefore, the question about the High Commission facilitating it does not arise,” Swaraj said. Her Ministry, she said, made enquires after Vaidik, “told some news channels that the High Commission knew about the meeting.We had then sought a report from the High Commission.” Her clarification came after Congress and other Opposition MPs almost brought the House to a halt on the issue. Vedprakash Vedic, a senior aide of Baba Ramdev, who is also a journalist, recently met the alleged 26/11 mastermind in Lahore recently.

However, Vaidik said he had consented to meet the Jamaat-ud-Dawa boss purely at the behest of a journalist friend from Pakistan. “When I was in Pakistan, the media criticism of Hafiz Saeed in India came up for discussion. It was then that a Pakistani journalist asked me if I would like to meet Saeed in person. I agreed and a call was immediately made to fix the meeting,” he said, denying any other motive to his appointment with the mostwanted terrorist. Refuting allegations that he had met Saeed as an envoy of the Narendra Modi government, Vaidik said his interface with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa boss was driven only by journalistic considerations.

“I would like to tell Congress, which is alleging that I met him on behalf of the government, to attack the Modi regime directly rather than train its guns from my shoulders”. “I am a known name in Pakistan. My writings and articles are translated and reproduced in Pakistani media. In my 55 years of journalistic career, I have not declined to meet anyone. I have met Maoist leaders and LTTE leaders including Prabhakaran,” said Vaidik. “I wanted to analyse Saeed’s mind and know why he committed heinous crimes against India,” he added.

He denied being part of the Vivekananda International Foundation, with which IB chief Ajit Kumar Doval was earlier associated. This has been alleged as the reason why he was chosen to play the government’s ‘envoy’ to reach Saeed. “I have never been associated with the government and do not look at such association in the future. I am an independent journalist who is free to meet anyone,” he said.

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