Former Pakistani cricketer Saeed Anwar is in the city as part of a jamaa’t and is leaving to New Delhi by Bhopal Express! These words were enough to drive hundreds of people, mainly young cricket enthusiasts, to swamp the station on Tuesday night to see the stylish former batsman. The jamaa’t members were almost mobbed as the crowd was impatient to see the gutsy cricketer.
Journalists zeroed in on the man they thought to be Anwar. But they were shocked. The man flatly denied being the cricketer and said that he was a jamaati called Farooq Saeed. But he had a striking resemblance with the former Pakistani opener.
Anwar is known to be involved with the Tablighi Jamaa’t. Contradictory answers by group members about his presence left the people curious about him.
Also a member’s comment that ‘Saeed Anwar is no more’ — in the sense that the former cricketer had been spiritually uplifted from his previous self — also fuelled the speculation that it could be Anwar who was not willing to reveal his identity. The Jamaa’t members refused to be photographed, saying that it was not allowed according to their belief.
An air of excitement and confusion prevailed near a mosque at Sarai Sikandari in the walled city where the jamaa’t was staying for the last few days. The excitement reached a crescendo by late evening as the Jamaa’t left for the station to board the Bhopal Express around 9 pm. A huge crowd followed the jamaa’tis, hoping only to see Anwar. The Saeed Anwar ‘lookalike’ however managed to keep the crowd at bay. He and a few jamaa’tis boarded a bogey other than that occupied by the rest.
The train chugged out. But the excitement did not die down. People kept making efforts to trace the ‘batsman’ as word spread that the jamaa’t, including Anwar, had not left.
Meanwhile, district administration had no reports about cricketer Saeed Anwar’s arrival in Bhopal. Collector S K Mishra said information about arrival of foreign passport holders goes to the police. Superintendent of Police A K Singh denied having any information. Sources in the special branch and intelligence were unaware of the cricketer’s arrival. Saeed Anwar’s name also did not figure on the railway reservation list.
The Jamaa’t was formed at the Markaz at New Delhi and included nationals of South-east Asian countries. The group was to leave for Mumbai via New Delhi but since reports of Anwar’s possible presence had already reached Mumbai, the Jamaa’t’s tour plan could possibly be altered at Delhi, it was learnt.