NEW DELHI – Indian journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik, whose meeting with Hafiz Saeed in Lahore has kicked up a row in the Indian parliament, defended himself by saying he only wanted to analyse the Jamaatud Dawa chief’s mind to perceive his motivation about India.
“The objective was very simple. I am a journalist and I really wanted to know him,” the 69-year-old journalist told the CNN-IBN channel. “I wanted to know what kind of a man he (Hafiz Saeed) is and why he committed ‘heinous crimes’ against India. I wanted to analyse his mind,” he said.
In an interview with the Dawn News channel, Vaidik pressed for more power to all parts of Kashmir, adding that if Kashmiris in Pakistan and India were ready, then the region could be made an independent country. After his return to India, the Indian journalist did a partial U-turn, saying he favoured more independence for Kashmir but not secession.
Vaidik also said he has been meeting all sorts of people as a journalist, including those who dislike India. "In Sri Lanka, I used to meet even worst India-haters. I listen to everybody's argument and I try to cut down their argument and persuade them,” Vaidik said. He said his controversial meetings were aimed at mobilizing peace in South Asia by way of persuading people.
“I have a mission. The entire South Asia should be united. I try to promote peace and prosperity in this entire region,” he said. "As a journalist, nobody is my boss, I follow my own conscience,” the journalist said while downplaying the controversy over his meeting with Hafiz Saeed.
"When I was in Pakistan, the media criticism of Hafiz Saeed in India came up for discussion. It was then that a Pakistani journalist asked me if I would like to meet Saeed in person. I agreed and a call was immediately made to fix the meeting,” he told Time of India newspaper, denying any other motive to his appointment with the Dawa chief.
Refuting allegations that he had met Saeed as an envoy of the Narendra Modi government, Vaidik said that his interface with the Jamaatud Dawa chief was driven only by journalistic considerations. “I am a known name in Pakistan. My writings and articles are translated and reproduced in Pakistani media. In my 55 years of journalistic career, I have not declined to meet anyone. I have met Maoist leaders and LTTE leaders including Prabhakaran," said Vaidik.