The head priest of Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah and his nephew returned to the capital on Monday, days after they went missing in Pakistan, but were not forthcoming about their mysterious disappearance. 80-year-old Syed Asif Nizami, Sajjadanashin of the holy shrine, and another senior Sufi cleric Nazim Ali Nizami landed at New Delhi by a Pakistan International Airlines flight and later called on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who had taken up their case with Islamabad.
Though the two clerics revealed little about their ordeal, Sajid Nizami, son of Asif Nizami, alleged that the duo were “taken away” based on a news report in a Karachi-based Urdu daily which claimed that they had links with Indian intelligence agency RAW.
When asked about reports that both of them could not be contacted as they were in interior Sindh where there was no communication network, Nazim Ali Nizami strongly rejected the claim.
“We did not have visa for Sindh interior region, so how could we have gone there? The reports that we could not be contacted because of network issue is totally false,” he told reporters.
On whether they were detained by Pakistani authorities, Sajid said “Yes”.
Asked if Pakistan spy agency ISI was involved in the episode and whether they were harassed, Sajid refused to comment but made it clear that “no force or coercion was used” against them.
After meeting Swaraj, Nazim Ali Nizami thanked the Indian government, particularly the External Affairs Minister, for their safe return and said they had gone to the neighbouring country with a message of peace and love.
“We were not among those who were involved in any illegal activities. We had gone to Pakistan to spread the message of love and peace. Some people may not have liked our message. I will again go to Pakistan with greater resolve,” he said.
Nizami also thanked the Pakistan government for the cooperation extended by it to enable their return.
Pakistani newspaper Ummat had in a report claimed that the clerics worked for RAW and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) movement.
The two clerics were given a warm welcome today when they visited the Nizamuddin Dargah. Special prayers were also offered at the Dargah to “thank the almighty” for their return.
Two two clerics had gone to Lahore on March 8 but went missing in the middle of last week following which India took up the issue with Islamabad. The main purpose of the visit of Asif to Pakistan was to see his 90-year-old sister in Karachi.
On Saturday, Pakistan had conveyed to India that the clerics were traced and had reached Karachi.
Swaraj had taken up the issue with Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and requested him to trace the missing clerics.
According to Pakistani media reports, both the clerics had been in “interior Sindh where there was no communication network” and that is why they could not inform their relatives about their whereabouts.
Earlier, Pakistani sources had said the two clerics were in the custody of Pakistan’s intelligence agency over their alleged links with MQM.
They were offloaded from Karachi-bound Shaheen Airlines on March 14 at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, the Pakistani sources had said.
When asked as to why they were “interrogated”, Nazim said they were asked about their visa and other immigration details.
“We thank Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and well-wishers from all religions who prayed for our return,” Nazim said.