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Delhi clerics: Full text of Pakistan newspaper article that hinted at RAW links

Asif Ali Nizami and Nazim Nizami are from Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah in Delhi. They had gone missing in Pakistan. A Pakistani daily, Ummat, had hinted that they were linked with RAW.

delhi Updated: Mar 20, 2017 22:10 IST
Gulam Jeelani
Gulam Jeelani
Hindustan Times
Nizamuddin dargah,Nizamuddin clerics,sufi clerics
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj meets the two sufi clerics who had gone missing in Pakistan.(Arun Sharma/HT Photo)

A Karachi newspaper, published in Urdu, had suggested that two Sufi clerics of the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, who had gone missing in Pakistan last week, may have links with India’s Research & Analysis Wing (RAW).

The two clerics, who returned to Delhi on Monday, alleged that the article in Daily Ummat, published with the headline “Bhartiya sajjadanasheen ki khufia masroofiat ne maamla mashkook banaya (The secret activities of the two clerics makes the matter suspicious)”, may have been responsible for them being questioned by the Pakistani authorities. The article, however, was printed on March 18, two days after the two clerics – Asif Ali Nizami and Nazim Nizami -- had gone missing and were being reportedly questioned by the Pakistani authorities.

The strap below the headline mentioned that the two did not meet anyone in Lahore or Pakpattan districts of the country, where they had said they were visiting shrines. It also said that the two spent most of the time in the high-security Lines Area of Karachi, where the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) holds sway. MQM’s leader Altaf Hussain was accused of having links with RAW in 2016. “RAW talluqaat kharij imkaan nahi (RAW links cannot be ruled out),” the strap said.

It even quoted Mufti Ramzan Sialvi, the head priest of data darbar shrine in Lahore -- which the two clerics were supposed to visit -- saying that he had no knowledge of their trip.

Questioning the ‘secret’ movements of the Sufi clerics, the newspaper said, “Ummat has learnt that the two clerics, Aasif Ali Nizami and Nazim Nizami travelled regularly to USA and UK.” It also quoted an unnamed security official hinting that some clerics at the Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi had RAW links.

Syed Asif Nizami, 82, and Nazim Ali Nizami, 66, members of the family of the Sajjada Nashin (caretakers) of Nizamuddin Dargah, arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Monday morning. Asif, the head priest, and his nephew, Nazim, had gone on pilgrimage to Pakistan on March 8. They were reported missing on Thursday (March 16) after their families were unable to contact them.

The clerics have rejected the allegations made in the article.

Full text of the article:

The two Indian clerics, Syed Asif Nizami and Nazim Nizami, who went missing from Lahore and Karachi airports, are under suspicion because nobody in Lahore or Pakpattan could confirm any meetings with them. “Even the head priest of Data Darbaar Masjid, Mufti Ramzan Sialvi, said he had no information about inviting any cleric from Delhi’s Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah. He even said the Masjid had invited two clerics from Ajmer Sharif Dargah to participate in the annual ‘urs’ but they did not turn up. Director general (Auqaf), Punjab, Tariq Bukhari told Ummat: “We do not have information about any guest with these names. Nor had anyone informed us about their visit.”

The management of Data Darbaar also denied any knowledge that the clerics were visiting the shrine. What was the need to hide the visit of two clerics from Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah in India? The fact that they confined themselves to the Lines Area in Karachi during their visit also raises questions about their movement. Ummat spoke with Sayyed Saiful Islam Nizami, one of the senior members of Nizami family in Karachi, who also denied meeting the two clerics from India. He also said that Nazim Nizami is a regular visitor to Pakistan while he had heard Asif was coming after two decades. “Still he did not consider meeting me,” he said. Ummat has learnt that the two clerics, Asif Ali Nizami and Nazim Nizami, who according to India have gone missing, would regularly travel to USA and United Kingdom.

A security official confirmed to Ummat that links with RAW of some clerics at the Dargah Nizamuddin in Delhi cannot be ruled out. It may be noted that there have been reports of RAW trying to make inroads in Lines Area of Karachi and some areas in Punjab. Also the ‘urs’ of dargah in Pakpattan is observed in Moharram – the first month of Islamic calendar, which is more than two months away. The two visiting the country now and not informing authorities raises questions about the purpose of their visit.

In Lahore too, instead of being received by some relative or someone from the management of the Dargah, the two clerics went to the house of Azeezur Rahman, the local leader of People’s Party. In fact, Rahman also did not spend much time with them and did not go to see them off at the airport. It is yet to be ascertained if the two are hiding or have been picked by any government agency. When we contacted Lahore airport to know the whereabouts of Nazim Nizami, they said they did not know about it and so did the officials of Shaheen Airlines, on which he was supposed to travel. Retired chief of ISI’s unit in Punjab, Brig (retd) Ghazanfar told Ummat that such people are not handlers but on rolls of the agencies who would visit to pass on messages.

When we tried to contact the management at Nizamuddin Dargah In Delhi, all phones were switched off, raising doubts if the Indian government is handling the issue. Under these circumstances, the Pakistani agencies should seriously look into the issue and investigate why the clerics who had apparently come on a pilgrimage had to hide their visit (from the Pakistani authorities).

First Published: Mar 20, 2017 18:44 IST