The Newshour Debate: Ved Pratap Vaidik Faces Arnab Goswami

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Opposition Congress on Monday (July 14) created uproar in Rajya Sabha over reported meeting of a journalist considered close to yoga guru Ramdev with 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, leading to two adjournments during Question Hour. Though the government clarified that it had nothing to do with it, Congress members sought a detailed statement on the purpose and motive behind the meeting with India's most wanted terrorist. Congress members said it was a matter of national interest and the journalist should have been arrested. Digvijay Singh (Congress) raised the issue when the House met for the day seeking to know from Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley if the meeting had government's sanction. Chairman Hamid Ansari disallowed him from raising the issue saying this was not the occasion for it and took up the Question Hour. "Please raise the matter appropriately…give notice and you will get an appropriate response. Let the Question Hour proceed," Ansari said. "This is Question Hour, a question has been called, allow it to be answered," he told the members. But the Congress members persisted with the issue, forcing Ansari to adjourn the House for 15 minutes.

When the House reassembled, Congress members again raised the issue, with senior member Anand Sharma saying that Saeed is the most wanted terrorist not just in India but all over the world. Jaitley responded saying that for India, Hafiz is a terrorist and was indeed involved in terrorism against India. Government of India has nothing to do with "directly, indirectly or even remotely" with any journalist meeting Saeed, he said. "Government had not sanctioned permission to anyone for meeting him (Saeed)," he said. Reports said Ved Pratap Vaidik, a freelance journalist, had met the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief in Lahore on July 2 while touring Pakistan along with a group of journalists and politicians invited by a peace research institute. Congress members kept saying the journalist was a key member of outfits close to BJP. Sharma wanted to know from the government as to what action it proposed to take and how can it allow an Indian citizen to meet Saeed. Demanding the arrest of the journalist, he said, "It is a matter of national security. Was the government aware of this meeting and did it seek any information from the Indian High Commission in Pakistan?" As the uproar continued, Ansari adjourned the House till noon.
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