A Midland Muslim maulvi, Sahabzada Hafiz Mohammad Rafiq Chisti, 47, is on the run after allegedly indecently assaulting a 12-year-old girl while giving her religious lessons at her home in Smethwick in Birmingham. The police want to question him, but it is said he has flown to Pakistan.
A father of 11 children, Chisti was a maulvi (teacher) at Faizul Haq mosque in Birmingham when he allegedly committed the offence last October. He was responsible for giving religious instructions to young Muslims at the mosque but he also took up tuitions at home.
His reported indecent behaviour has shocked the community. He knew the Koran by heart and was a known scholar in Islamic circles. He was respected enough to be trusted with young children. In Pakistan, it is said that he was in politics as well and was an active member of the Muslim League.
A source in the mosque revealed that after teaching for two months, Chisti suddenly said he had to return to Pakistan to look after a sick relative. The source admitted that the mosque had received several letters from the police addressed to him. But, no one has any idea when he will come back to Birmingham.
The police are looking for him after allegations that he sexually and physically abused the girl at her house over a "sustained period" of time. The Sandwell social services confirmed that it provided support to the alleged victim.
The police said that if they did not hear from Chisti soon, they would issue a warrant. They are aware that he is in Pakistan now. It may however be difficult for them to get him back from Pakistan. If the authorities there get him arrested, his trial here will badly damage reputation of maulvis and clerics who are supposed to be strict disciplinarians.