New Delhi: A row erupted over yoga guru Ramdev's close aide Ved Pratap Vaidik's meeting with Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed with Congress today seeking to corner the government inside and outside Parliament over whether it had given its approval.
The government on its part distanced itself from the meeting and declared it had nothing to do with the journalist “directly, indirectly or even remotely” and asserted there was no sanction from its side. “There is no Track-2 or Track-3 diplomacy involved,” it added.
Vaidik had met the chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, said to be the parent organisation of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba(LeT), in Lahore on July 2 while touring Pakistan along with a group of journalists and politicians invited by a peace research institute.
As the Congress demanded his arrest, Vaidik defended his parleys with Saeed, saying he has been meeting all kinds of people and that it was a “simple thing” for him.
He also rejected suggestions by Congress that he might have acted as government's envoy, saying he was “nobody's envoy but my own”.
The meeting generated heat in Parliament with Rajya Sabha witnessing two adjournments during Question Hour.
Congress members in both Houses sought a detailed statement from the government on the “purpose and motive behind the meeting with India's most wanted terrorist”.
They created uproar in Rajya Sabha forcing two adjournments during Question Hour, as they and their colleagues in Lok Sabha, as well as those from their allies, sought to know whether the journalist had sought government's permission before meeting Saeed and who facilitated it.
They demanded a statement by either the External Affairs Minister or Home Minister saying this was “a serious matter concerning national security”.
In Rajya Sabha, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said 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, he said, adding “government has not sanctioned permission to anyone for meeting him (Saeed).”
Congress members also demanded the arrest of the journalist, with their leader Digvijay Singh seeking to know from Jaitley if the meeting had government's sanction.
“I want to clarify that we don't approve any such activity(meeting with Saeed),” Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said, as he accused the Congress of being desperate.
“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,” Javadekar told reporters outside Parliament. The Minister also said there is no “Track-2 or Track-3 diplomacy” involved.