'I don't regret meeting Hafiz Saeed'
You can’t put journalists behind bars for meeting people. I did not meet Hafiz Saeed to advise him, it was purely a professional meeting, Ved Pratap Vaidik tells Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa
Journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik’s meeting with Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed at his residence in Pakistan has snowballed into a controversy.
Vaidik, however, said he had no reason to apologise and had met Saeed as a journalist.
“I am a journalist of repute and have a right to meet anyone I want,” said Vaidik.
“It is laughable when people say that that the meeting was held at the behest of someone in the Indian government. That is not correct. Let people say what they want to,” he said.
Vaidik said he would appreciate if people stopped speaking nonsense and calling the meeting stage managed.
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Image: Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and founder of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, is surrounded by his supporters as he leaves after a news conference in Rawalpindi near Islamabad
'Why am I being treated as a criminal?'
“I had not met him (Saeed) with an intention to counsel him. When I was in Pakistan a couple of journalist friends said that people in India talk a lot about Hafiz Saeed. Why don’t you meet with him? We can arrange it for you. I agreed as a journalist to meet him and I do not see what is wrong in that,” said Vaidik.
“I fail to understand why I am being treated as a criminal for meeting him. What wrong have I committed. Can you put journalists behind bars for meeting with people? I had not met him to advise him. It was purely a professional meeting,” he said.
“You speak about him being a killer of many. Even Pervez Musharraf (former Pakistan president) had ensured the killing of many persons but former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh met with him. Will you put him behind bars?”
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Image: Journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik
'I don't' understand why people are dragging the govt into this'
Vaidik said the meeting with Saeed was not planned and nobody in the government was aware of it. “I asked him about the accusations against him. I even said that if he felt he had done no wrong then he should come down to India and clarify his stand.”
“There were several issues we spoke about including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He told me about his roots and his personal life. Saeed wanted to clarify his stand on allegations against him and even asked if he could come to India and do so. Now this is not something I could decide. I just felt that this man is capable of talking,” he said.
“I don’t regret meeting Saeed and I don’t’ understand why people are dragging the government into this. It was my decision and I do not think that it is an issue of the government. I have said earlier I was my own envoy. I have been a journalist for over 5 decades and have met several people in the past including Maoists. My intention was not to preach or give anyone a sermon,” Vaidik added.