Baba Ramdev's close aide Dr Ved Pratap Vaidik finds himself in the midst of a controversy after Vaidik released a picture of himself with 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed. According to Vaidik, he visited Saeed on 2 July in Lahore and had an hour-long chat with him.
Vaidik told ANI, "Yes this photograph was released by me. I have my photo with Nawaz Sharif and other politicians too. I was there for 20 days and met several people there."
"There is no question of me being an envoy of Mr. Narendra Modi," Vaidik told reporters, adding that he had met many national and foreign leaders and rebels over the years without being associates as anyone's envoy. "Calling me anyone's envoy is insulting," said Vaidik in another interview to TimesNOW.
In the same interview, Vaidik said he talked to Saeed for about 60 or 70 minutes on relations between India and Pakistan and terrorism. "He denied all the allegations against him," said Vaidik. "He said he came to know about the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks only two hours after the attack on television news," he added. Further, Vaidik said, "I was very pleased when Saeed said he would welcome Mr. Modi in Pakistan."
Interestingly, Vaidik claims to have played the role of diplomat-in-chief as he says he convinced Saeed to change his views about Modi and India.
Vaidik told the news agency ANI, "Hafeez Saeed asked me about Narendra Modi. He said Modi is dangerous and now he has become the Prime Minister of India. He said that Modi is dangerous for the whole of South Asia. I said that his thinking is not right. There is no need to fear Modi."
He added in the same vein, "Many South Asia ministers and media know me well. Everybody knows that only by dialogue we can sort out our issues. Violence and terror is not a solution. It is only through dialogue that we can resolve our issues."
Baba Ramdev jumped to Vaidik's defence. He told ANI, "I am sure VP Vaidik tried to change Hafeez Saeed's heart, he is a journalist and he can meet anyone."
When asked, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told ANI only Vaidik could clarify and that the BJP wouldn't comment.
The Samajwadi Party was more vocal, with former SP leader Shahid Siddiqui stating that while he respects Vaidik, he should definitely apologise for the meeting.
Check out ANI's tweets on the issue below:
I contradicted all his statements, discussion was tensed initially,then his views were changed-Ved Pratap Vaidik on meeting Hafeez Saeed
— ANI (@ANI_news) July 13, 2014
Yes,I myself posted that picture, also met Nawaz Sharif & many other leaders from Pakistan-Ved Pratap Vaidik on meeting Hafeez Saeed
— ANI (@ANI_news) July 13, 2014
The BJP appears to be wearing kid gloves in its treatment of the Ramdev aide, for the party was hardly so kind meeting Hafeez Sayeed is concerned, the BJP it should be noted wasn't so kind when former home minister Sushilkumar Shinde referred to the LeT mastermind as Shri and Mr in his speech in the Parliament. When Shinde used the honorifics, protests from the BJP ranks were strident and immediate.
While Shinde's addressing of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief as Shri Saeed and Mr Saeed had sparked outrage, Vaidik's meeting with the 26/11 conspirator in which he claims to have played 'negotiator' for India hasn't yielded any reaction from the BJP, something the party could find a little inconvenient to explain.
Updated Date: Jul 14, 2014 14:02:18 IST