Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit, the detention of a 62-year-old cleric from Zakir Nagar led to tension in the area on Wednesday. Maulana Yasin Akhtar Misbahi was later released. During his 45-minute questioning by the Special Cell, Zakir Nagar residents, led by local politicians, gathered in protest outside Jamia Nagar police station.
“Police came to meet me and said they would like to talk at the station. So I went there. An ACP said some senior officers had some questions for me,” Misbahi told Newsline.
He was taken to the Special Cell office on Lodhi Road for questioning. “There were three officers. They questioned me on my madrassa and the frequent calls I receive from Pakistan,” he said.
Misbahi calls himself an alim (one who has knowledge) and a musannif (an author) with several books to his credit. “I have books published out of Lahore, Karachi and Delhi. I have visited Pakistan before so I get calls from there from people who read my books,” he said.
Misbahi said he was questioned about the conversations. “I was treated with respect,” he said. He was also questioned on where the students and teachers at his madrassa came from. “I founded this madrassa about 30 years ago. It is funded by fellow Muslims who spare as much as they can,” he said.
Residents expressed shock at his “treatment”. “He sits in prayer all day and teaches the children. There is nothing he could possibly do to be detained by the police,” Sher Ali, a resident, said.
Local MLA Asif Mohd Khan said the cleric’s release was a result of public pressure and that a man of his stature “should not be treated this way”. The All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, umbrella body of Indian Muslim organisations, on Thursday condemned the detention.
Police said they called the maulvi to seek clarifications over calls from Pakistan. “He was let off after half an hour. There was no terror angle to it… It was for security reasons,” an officer said.