Tea, Biscuits, Special Dal: 'Missing' Cleric On His Questioning In Pakistan

Story Highlights
  • Two Indian clerics who went missing in Pakistan returned home on Monday
  • They met Sushma Swaraj to thank the Foreign Minister for her intervention
  • Questioned by Pak agencies, were treated well: Clerics
NEW DELHI: Back home on Monday, the two Indian clerics who had gone missing in Pakistan met Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to thank her for intervening with Islamabad to ensure they get back to Delhi safe. Their family has alleged Pakistan's security agencies had taken in the two clerics - Syed Asif Ali Nizami, the 80-year-old head priest of New Delhi's Nizamuddin Dargah and his nephew Nazim Ali Nizami, 66, - for questioning.
 
After his meeting with Ms Swaraj, the head priest of Delhi's Sufi Shrine broke his silence on his disappearance. He spoke about his detention at the Karachi airport from where he was driven out to a place quite far from Karachi after "putting a cloth over my head". Was he ill-treated? "Not At all," he stresses, pointing how his interrogators offered him biscuits and made him tea just the way he liked it. Or how they made cooked dal for him when he told them that he didn't want mutton.
 
The two clerics had gone to Lahore's Data Durbar Sufi Shrine on March 8 but went missing soon after they reached Karachi airport on March 14. As news of their disappearance reached Delhi, Ms Swaraj told Indian high commission officials in Pakistan to closely follow up with the Pakistani government to secure their release.


The first hint that the clerics' disappearance may have something to do with security agencies came when Ms Swaraj tweeted on March 17 that their host in Karachi "appears to be under pressure not to speak to the Indian High Commission". Over the weekend, the Foreign Minister also spoke with Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistan Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs. The clerics were released soon after.
 
Soon after landing at Delhi airport, Nazim Ali Nizami rebutted reports in Pakistani media that suggested they hadn't gone missing but travelled to interior Sindh where there was no communication network. "We did not. We did not have visa for Sindh interior region, so how could we have gone there?" he asked.
 
He, however, wouldn't say what happened. But they did bring back a copy of a Pakistani Urdu paper, Daily Ummat, which had a news report that called the two visiting clerics at Delhi's Sufi shrine agents of Indian external agency.
 
It was after this media report in this newspaper that they were picked up and questioned, Sajid Nizami, the son of the Nizamuddin Dargarh's head priest told NDTV, holding up a copy of the paper.
 
Standing against the backdrop of the Dargah, Nazim Ali added: "We left to spread the message of Nizamuddin Dargah of peace and love. That's why we had gone to Pakistan. There are people who disagree with this message of peace and love".
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