Hamid Ansari invited Pakistan journalist spying for ISI, alleges BJP; former Vice-President calls it ‘litany of falsehood’

BJP spokesperson demands to know whether the claims made by Pakistani journalist Nusrat Mirza that Mr. Ansari shared secret information with him were true

July 13, 2022 06:10 pm | Updated July 14, 2022 07:39 pm IST - New Delhi

Former Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari. File

Former Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Hours after a press conference by an official spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in which he demanded to know whether the claims made by Pakistani journalist Nusrat Mirza that former Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari shared secret information with him were true, Mr. Ansari responded that a “litany of falsehood” had been unleashed against him “by the media and by the official spokesperson of the BJP”.

The controversy, foregrounded by BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia at a press conference held at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi, concerned the claims and comments made by Mr. Mirza, wherein he said that he had been invited to India five times, and that sensitive information on national security had been shared with him by Mr. Ansari. Mr. Bhatia demanded that the Congress party that had led the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre come clean on the issue.

Mr. Ansari released a strongly worded statement in response to this accusation, and another that he had compromised a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) operative while he was the Ambassador to Iran during his diplomatic career. “Yesterday and today a litany of falsehood has been unleashed on me personally in the sections of the media and by the official spokesperson of the BJP,” he said in his statement. “It is a known fact that invitation to foreign dignitaries by the Vice President of India are on the advice of the Government generally through the ministry of external affairs. I had inaugurated the Conference on Terrorism on December 11, 2010, the ‘International Conference of Jurists on International Terrorism and Human Rights’. As is normal practice the list of invitees would have been drawn by the organisers. I never invited him or met him [Mr. Mirza].”

On the accusations with regard to exposing an R&AW operative in Iran, he said his “work as ambassador to Iran was at all times within the knowledge of the government of the day. I am bound by the commitment to national security in such matters and refrain from commenting on them. The government of India has all the information and is the only authority to tell the truth. It is a matter of record that after my stint in Teheran I was appointed India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. My work there has been acknowledged at home and abroad.”

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, in a statement said, that “insinuations and innuendos by a spokesperson of the BJP against Vice President Hamid Ansari and Congress President Sonia Gandhi are character assassination of the worst form”. He alleged, “The levels that the Prime Minister and his party colleagues will stoop to debase public debate and spread their patented brand of lies is staggering. It reflects sickness of mind and lack of any form of integrity whatsoever.”

Pakistani journalist Nusrat Mirza made these claims during a virtual address, and a day after they came to light, the BJP raised the issue. Mr Bhatia also wanted Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi to issue a clarification on the issue.

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