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New Delhi: Former vice-president Hamid Ansari has called Bharatiya Janata Party’s claim of him having shared secrets with a purported Pakistani spy a “litany of falsehoods.”
The BJP on Wednesday, July 13, cited media reports and accused Ansari of inviting to India a Pakistani journalist Nusrat Mirza who has claimed to have spied for the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence.
Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia claimed that Mirza has alleged that Ansari shared many “sensitive and highly classified” information with him. Videos showing Mirza purportedly making this claim have been circulated on social media. Several BJP leaders and supporters also repeated Bhatia’s claim.
“He says this information was used against India by the ISI to weaken India. India has been leading the campaign against terrorism, and the Congress government invited a person who was given information used against our country and its people,” Bhatia said, according to an Indian Express report.
In a statement, Ansari noted that he never met Mirza in the first place, let alone share information with him.
“I had inaugurated the Conference on Terrorism, on December 11, 2010, the ‘International Conference of Jurists on International Terrorism and Human Rights’. As is the normal practice, the list of invitees would have been drawn by the organisers. I never invited him or met him,” Ansari said.
Statement of Sh. Hamid Ansari, former Vice President of India on the falsehood unleashed by BJP spokesperson.
Sh. Hamid Ansari never invited or met Nusrat Mirza in any capacity- official or personal. pic.twitter.com/lwCHNiYDIZ
— Gurdeep Singh Sappal (@gurdeepsappal) July 13, 2022
Ansari said it is a known fact that invitations to foreign dignitaries by the Vice-President of India are on the advice of the government, generally through the Ministry of External Affairs.
On the BJP’s claims of him having harmed the country’s interests when he was its envoy to Iran, the former vice president said his work speaks for itself.
“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 Tehran, I was appointed India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. My work there has been acknowledged at home and abroad,” Ansari said.
Ansari, who was the vice president between 2007-17 and before that had served as India’s envoy to several countries including Iran, rejected this charge and said that his work as ambassador to Iran was at all times within the knowledge of the government of the day.
Congress, too, strongly condemned the “insinuations and innuendos” by the BJP against the former vice president and party president Sonia Gandhi, saying it amounts to “character assassination of the worst form”.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a statement that the levels that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party colleagues will stoop to debase public debate is staggering.
"भाजपा के प्रवक्ता द्वारा भारतीय राष्ट्रीय कांग्रेस की अध्यक्षा श्रीमती सोनिया गांधी और भारत के पूर्व उपराष्ट्रपति और प्रतिष्ठित राजनयिक श्री हामिद अंसारी के प्रति लगाए गए आक्षेपों और झूठ फ़ैलाने की कोशिश की कड़े से कड़े शब्दों में निंदा होनी चाहिए।"- @Jairam_Ramesh pic.twitter.com/PZlvHUHxHS
— INC TV (@INC_Television) July 13, 2022
“It reflects sickness of mind and lack of any form of integrity whatsoever,” Ramesh said.
Among those who rejected the allegations was Gurdeep Singh Sappal, who had served as Ansari’s officer on special duty.
Sappal called the news reports “false” and mentioned that Mirza has himself not even said that Ansari had invited him and the Pakistani journalist just happened to be at the seminar where the then Vice President gave a speech on terrorism.
In his thread, written in Hindi, Sappal noted that Ansari also was not the host of the event but had been invited to it.
ये खबर ग़लत है।
1. नुसरत मिर्ज़ा ने बोला ही नहीं है कि पूर्व उपराष्ट्रपति हामिद अंसारी ने उसे बुलाया था। (वीडियो लिंक थ्रेड में है)
2. उसने कहा कि वो उस सेमिनार में था जहां उपराष्ट्रपति का आतंकवाद पर भाषण दिया था।
3. उस कार्यक्रम की डिटेल आगे पढ़ें।
— Gurdeep Singh Sappal (@gurdeepsappal) July 12, 2022
(With PTI inputs)