Two senior clerics from Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah, who were reported missing in Pakistan, have been taken into custody by intelligence agencies for “suspicious activities”, sources said on Friday.
The clerics - Asif Nizami, 82, and Nazim Ali Nizami, 66 – are members of the extended family of the Sajjada Nashin (hereditary administrator) of the shrine in Delhi. They were reported missing on Thursday after their families were unable to contact them in Pakistan, where they had gone for a pilgrimage.
There was official silence on the issue but the sources said late on Friday night that the clerics had been detained by intelligence agencies. The sources did not give details of the “suspicious activities” for which they were held. There was no information on the current whereabouts of the two men. The sources also said no FIR has been filed against the clerics.
The clerics reportedly visited the dargah of Khwaja Fariduddin Masud Ganjshakar, popularly known as Baba Farid, at Pakpattan, some 160 km from Lahore, on March 13. The next day, the visited the Data Darbar dargah in Lahore.
Sources said when the clerics went to Lahore airport to take a flight to Karachi on March 15, Nazim Ali Nizami was detained while Asif Nizami was allowed to board the aircraft. Though Asif Nizami reached Karachi, his relatives were unable to trace him at the airport, the sources added.
The clerics also shared photos with their relatives on WhatsApp that apparently showed them at the Data Darbar shrine.
In a series of tweets, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said the matter had been taken up with the Pakistan government, which had been asked to give an update on the whereabouts of the clerics.
We have taken up this matter with Government of Pakistan and requested them for an update on both the Indian nationals in Pakistan./4— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 17, 2017
However, Swaraj said both clerics went missing after arriving in Karachi.
Both are missing after they landed at Karachi airport. /3— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 17, 2017
Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told the media that an Indian request for assistance for recovering the clerics had been received. He said this request had been forwarded to the interior ministry, which is “actively pursuing the matter”.
Asif Nizami’s family said the clerics left for Pakistan on March 6 and had their return flight scheduled on Thursday, which they failed to make. Amir, the son of Asif Nizami, said his father was visiting Pakistan after 35 years and had last spoken to the family at 4 pm on Wednesday.
They had planned to travel to Karachi to meet Asif Nizami’s sister.
“A home ministry official visited us today (Friday) and told us the government is following the matter and taking it up seriously,” Amir said.