This Article is From Jul 15, 2014

Nothing To Do With Vaidik-Saeed Meet: Government On Rahul Gandhi's Charge

Nothing To Do With Vaidik-Saeed Meet: Government On Rahul Gandhi's Charge

Journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik met terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Lahore

New Delhi: The political showdown over journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik's meeting with terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed intensified on Tuesday with the Congress sharpening its attacks on the government in Parliament.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi linked Mr Vaidik with the RSS, the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP, and questioned whether the Indian embassy was involved in his meeting with Hafiz Saeed.

"The man is an RSS man. That is a known fact. We are curious to know if Indian embassy facilitated this meeting," Mr Gandhi told reporters.

Several Congress members demanded to know why the freelance journalist met Saeed in Lahore on July 2, and whether the Centre had sanctioned it. Mr Vaidik's comments to a Pakistani channel on making Kashmir an independent nation have fueled more outrage.

Slogans demanding Mr Vaidik's arrest were raised in the Rajya Sabha.

Congress leader Kamal Nath said, "The meet shows the government has initiated new track for dialogue with India's most wanted terrorist. It needs to be severely condemned."

The government emphatically denied the allegation raised by the Congress in both houses.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha, "This was his private travel and a personal meeting. This kind of allegation that Indian government facilitated it is false and extremely unfortunate. The Indian government has nothing to do with this."

Mr Vaidik, 69, met Saeed while touring Pakistan along with a group of journalists and politicians invited by a peace research institute. He is considered close to yoga teacher Ramdev, who campaigned for the BJP in the national election.

"Mr Vaidik traveled to Pakistan with Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Mani Shankar Aiyar. How the RSS comes into the picture, I don't understand," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said.

Ved Pratap Vaidik has said he met Hafiz Saeed as a "journalist must meet all kinds of people."

New Delhi accuses Saeed, founder of the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, of plotting a series of terror strikes in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008, in which 166 people were killed. Saeed, however, roams free in Pakistan and often addresses public rallies.