Pakistan on Friday admitted to detaining the two Sufi clerics from Delhi’s Nizamuddin Dargah who had gone missing while on a visit to the country, reported CNN-News18.
India has dismissed Pakistan’s claims that the clerics had engaged in "unauthorised movement".
Asif Nizami, the chief priest of the Dargah, and his nephew Nazim Nizami had gone to Karachi to meet relatives on 8 March before traveling to Lahore to visit a Sufi shrine.
According to their families, the two clerics were halted at separate airports over incomplete travel papers.
Asif Nizami’s son Sajid Ali Nizami said that there is no information on the whereabouts of Hammad, the local person who works at the airport in Karachi and had gone to receive them.
Earlier, ANI had quoted its sources as saying that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were allegedly behind the clerics’ disappearance.
On Friday, the Dargah Committee met in Delhi’s Nizamuddin to discuss the matter.
Pakistan Journalist Speaks to Indian Media
Pakistani senior journalist Arsalan Bhatti spoke to CNN-News18 about the disappearance and said:
They might have been taken by sensitive agency for interrogation and it is expected that the Pakistan police chief will clear all questions within the next 24 hours.
The report further added that Punjab government spokesman in Pakistan, Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, ruled out the possibility of their detention in Pakistan.
Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan There is no straightaway claim that any agency took them. We have some leads that they went to some places on their own. It’s not a case of abduction, we are looking into details.
The clerics’ family is only in touch with the Indian government, which claims they are building adequate pressure on Pakistan.
We Have No Clue of the Clerics: Pakistan
Earlier on Friday, Pakistan had said that it has no clue about the two Indian clerics.
Nafees Zakaria, Foreign Office Spokesperson No clue to the missing Indian priests has been found so far. However, we are pro-actively pursuing this case. We have asked all departments concerned to look into the matter.
Zakaria added that the Foreign Office on Thursday received the request of the Indian government to trace the two missing clerics.
A Federal Investigation Agency official at the Lahore airport told PTI that they have no idea about the missing of the two clerics from the airport premises.
Federal Investigation Agency Official It is not clear whether they have gone with someone on their own, or there is some other matter.
On the other hand, a senior Punjab police officer expressed his department's ignorance about this matter saying:
Neither have we received any application about the missing Indian priests, nor the federal government has asked us to look into this matter.
Indian Govt Promises to Build Pressure on Pak
Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj tweeted about the issue. She said that the matter has been taken up with the government of Pakistan.
Indian nationals Syed Asif li Nizami aged 80 years and his nephew Nazim Ali Nizami had gone to Pakistan on 8 March 2017. /1— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 17, 2017
Syed Asif Ali Nizami is Head Priest (Sajjadanashin) of Hazrat Nizammuddin Aulia dargah. /2— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 17, 2017
Both are missing after they landed at Karachi airport. /3— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 17, 2017
On 14 March, they offered another “chadar” at the Data Darbar Sufi shrine also in Lahore.
The next day when they reached the airport to take a return flight for Karachi, Nazim Ali Nizami was stopped to clear some documentation and Syed Asif Ali Nizami was asked to board the flight.
He reached Karachi airport and asked his relatives to pick him up, but he did not come out.
Since then, their mobile phones have been switched off and their family in India has not been able to get in touch with them.
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
Exchanges between clerics of the Nizamuddin Dargah and the Daata Darbar are part of a regular tradition.
(With inputs from media agencies.)