The Indian journalist Ved Vaidik has met Hafiz Saeed, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief, in Lahore on July 2 when the former was on a visit to Pakistan with a group of journalists and politicians invited by a peace and research institute.
The interview/meeting has caused ripples in India because of Vaidik’s close association with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Opposition parties swamped the ruling BJP with questions about how an Indian journalist could meet a man considered responsible for the Mumbai attack in 2008.
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Lok Sabha — the lower house of the Indian parliament — that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had nothing to do with the meeting. India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has called the meeting a diplomatic misadventure of a private citizen. And according to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Vaidik belongs to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing Hindu nationalist group ostensibly involved in charitable work but notorious for fanaticism.
The Congress Party has asked the government to give details about the meeting as it is a matter of national interest. It has also demanded the arrest of the journalist and a judicial inquiry into the affair.
Hafiz Saeed, on the other hand, has been shocked at the reaction of the Indian politicians to the meeting, which according to him has once again revealed the true face of India, veiled behind a so-called secular demeanour. Saeed tweeted: “Utterly shameful”, about India’s reaction.
Vaidik has defended his meeting with Saeed by calling it a personal matter that has nothing to do with the government. He said his only motive to meet Saeed was to analyse his mind about India and to understand what makes him commit such heinous crimes against India.
According to Vaidik, he has met many Indian-haters in the past to persuade them to bring peace in South Asia. Vaidik has been reported talking to Saeed about the possibility of an independent Kashmir.
Saeed on the other hand has also said that his party would not protest if Narendra Modi comes to Pakistan.