Ved Pratap Vaidik has kicked up a storm by claiming that he had an hour-long meeting with Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed at the latter’s residence in Lahore earlier this month.
Vaidik, known to be close to yoga teacher Ramdev, claims that Saeed had a candid discussion with him on a range of issues, including about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, terrorism and the recent inclusion of JuD in the list of terrorist organisations drawn up by the US. At the end of the meeting, Vaidik claims, Saeed requested him to invite him to India so that he can hold a large public meeting to clarify his position.
“The meeting was sudden, neither the Government of India nor I knew that I would meet him when I left for Pakistan. It was initially very tense, with a lot of heavily armed security guards and Saeed himself looking on without a word. There were some eatables on the table. When he offered them to me I said ‘I cannot eat this because I know you are fasting for Ramzan and I cannot eat in front of you’. That eased the tension a bit and we started talking,” Vaidik told The Indian Express.
The meeting, he said, had been in the works for more than a year and was arranged by an anchor of prominent Pakistani news channel. Some time into the meeting, the conversation veered to Modi and Saeed, according to the former journalist, did not refrain from asking many personal questions about the PM including about his wife. “I don’t know why they ask such questions but when he persisted I also asked him whether he is a brahmachari (bachelor). He said he has three wives and I told him he is one short at which he burst out laughing,” Vaidik said.
Saeed claimed roots in Punjab near Ropar and said his parents had fled to Pakistan when his mother was pregnant. He was born in Pakistan.
At the end of the meeting, Saeed walked with Vaidik to his car. “He held the door open for me and requested me if I could invite him to India so that he could hold a large public meeting and clarify his standpoint. I came away with the impression that he is a man that one can hold a dialogue with,” Vaidik said.
Vaidik also met Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif.
The reaction in India to Vaikik meeting Hafiz Saeed is uncalled for and goes to show the mental attitude of the Indian media and the law-makers. After all, a journalist is free to meet whomever it likes.