New Delhi: In a fresh twist to the controversy over the BJP asking former Vice President Hamid Ansari to come clean on claims of a Pakistan journalist which were rubbished by him and the Congress, Dr Adish Aggarwala, Chairman, All India Bar Association, has said that they “chose not to disclose” about an international conference on terrorism and the government should initiate a probe into the matter as it “relates to national security and espionage”.
In a press statement, Aggarwala, a senior advocate, said that the former Vice President and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had referred to the International Conference of Jurists on International Terrorism and Human Rights held on December 11 and 12, 2010 in Vigyan Bhavan and not to the International Conference against Terrorism organised by Jama Masjid United Forum held at Oberoi Hotel, New Delhi on October 27, 2009.
He said the 2009 conference was attended by Hamid Ansari, Shahi Imam of Delhi Jama Masjid National Conference leader Dr Farooq Abdullah and other Muslim leaders.
Aggarwala alleged that Hamid Ansari and his friends “were fraternizing with Pakistan journalist Nusrat Mirza at the Jama Masjid United Forum’s Conference”.
The BJP had on Wednesday asked Ansari and the Congress to come clean on media reports about claims of Pakistani journalist Nusrat Mirza that Ansari had invited him to India. Mirza claimed that he had shared the information collected during the visits with Pakistan’s ISI.
Ansari had said that a litany of falsehood had been unleashed on him personally in sections of media and by the official spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party.
Aggarwala, who is President International Council of Jurists, London, said it appears that Hamid Ansari and Jairam Ramesh “chose not to disclose about the Jama Masjid United Forum’s Conference in order to mislead government agencies and the public. Possibly, they felt it appropriate to take shelter behind the Jurists’ Conference so that Mr Ansari receives a clean chit on scrutiny of records of the said Conference”.
“The statements made by Mr Hamid Ansari and Mr Jairam Ramesh and other Congress office bearers are manifestly distorted, wholly untrue, and deplorably dishonest. It is rather astonishing that a former Vice-President of the country would indulge in underhanded activity and then try to duck behind another unconnected event to lead the public astray. In order to unravel the truth, I reiterate that Mr Hamid Ansari and his friends were fraternizing with Nusrat Mirza at the Jama Masjid United Forum’s Conference,” he said.
Aggarwala said statements were made to take cover behind the Conference of Jurists in order to evade questions and escape inquiries.
He said Ansari had attended the International Conference of Jurists on International Terrorism and Human Rights in 2010 but Nusrat Mirza was neither an invitee, nor had he attended it. “Even Nusrat Mirza has not referred to this Conference in his interview,” he said.
“It is recalled that when the aforesaid Conference was being organized, an invitation to attend the Conference had been sent to Mr Hamid Ansari in his capacity as Vice-President of India. Mr Ashok Dewan who at that time was working as Director, Vice-President Secretariat had informed me that the Vice-President has desired that Pakistani journalist Nusrat Mirza be invited to the Conference. However, we could not accede to the request since Mr Mirza was from Pakistan media and we had not invited judges or lawyers from Pakistan,” Aggarwala said.
“When Mr Dewan came to know that we have not invited Mr Mirza despite insistence of the Vice-President, Mr Dewan called me up the day before the conference and expressed displeasure of the Vice-President. He also informed me that Mr Hamid Ansari has felt offended and will now attend the inaugural ceremony for only twenty minutes although he had initially agreed to participate in the event for an hour. On the next day, Mr Ansari left the ceremony after twenty minutes itself as had been informed by Mr. Dewan,” he added.
Aggarwala said some Congress leaders are trying to mask the alleged meeting of Mr Hamid Ansari with Nusrat Mirza “by making insinuations and veiled statements on social media that Nusrat Mirza had attended the Conference organized by me”.
“Mr. Ansari may have been advised to shield himself behind the Jurists’ Conference as it is attended by Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chief Justices, Law Ministers including Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Judges of International Court of Justice, and follows all norms of the respective countries that host the conferences. The actual event where Mr Ansari and Mr Mirza participated together is not the Conference of Jurists as attempted to be portrayed by Mr Ansari and his supporters. The said event, which for obvious reasons Mr Hamid Ansari and Mr Jairam Ramesh withheld in their public statements, is the ‘International Conference against Terrorism’ organized by Jama Masjid United Forum”
“It appears that Mr Hamid Ansari and Mr Jairam Ramesh chose not to disclose about the Jama Masjid United Forum’s Conference in order to mislead government agencies and the public. Possibly, they felt it appropriate to take shelter behind the Jurists’ Conference so that Mr Ansari receives a clean chit on scrutiny of records of the said conference,” he said.
“They deceitfully and designedly named the Jurists’ Conference as the only one which was attended by Mr. Hamid Ansari on the assumption that none will reach the truth. Mr Hamid Ansari had shared the dais with Mr Nusrat Mirza at the said event. Whenever an event is attended by the President of India, Vice-President of India or the Prime Minister of India who are adorning the dais, the names of all persons who share the dais are to be first cleared by the said leaders. It is, therefore, obvious that the names of persons who were on the dais that day had been approved of by Mr Ansari. This implies that Mr Mirza was present in the said event either on the invite of or at least with prior knowledge and consent of Mr Hamid Ansari. It is regrettable that Mr Hamid Ansari is now trying to wash his hands off the matter and to distance himself from the said person after their close association has been disclosed by Nusrat Mirza himself.”
Aggarwala also enclosed a photograph “showing Mr Hamid Ansari sharing the dais at the said event”.
“We request the Government of India to initiate an inquiry into the matter since the matter relates to national security and espionage. The records of the Jama Masjid United Forum Conference, which apparently are not in public domain, need to be retrieved and analyzed,” he said.
Aggarwala said each such international conference can be organised only after obtaining clearance of Union Home Ministry and External Affairs Ministry.
He said the former Vice-President must “be made to account for acts that endangered the lives of its citizens”.
Nusrat Mirza claimed that Ansari invited him to India five times between 2005-2011 and added that he shared the information he collected during his visits with ISI.
BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia had taken a dig at Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and alleged that the opposition party has a history that it “stands for the family, not for the nation”. He also asked Ansari if he had taken instructions from the Gandhis to invite Mirza. Congress- led UPA Government was in power at the centre from 2004 to 2014. (ANI)