India takes up matter of missing Sufi priests with Pakistan, seeks immediate repatriation
India has taken up the matter of the two Sufi priests of Delhi's famous Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah who went missing in Pakistan with the country’s Foreign Ministry in Islamabad and has sought the immediate repatriation of its citizens.
The two have been identified as Asif Nizami and his brother Nazim Nizami, senior clerics from Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya dargah in New Delhi. According to family members, the duo had gone to Pakistan on a religious tour but are believed to have gone missing.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed that the government has taken up the matter very seriously with provincial government via Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad.
“Indian nationals Asif Nizami aged 80 years and his nephew Nazim Ali Nizami had gone to Pakistan on 8 March 2017. Asif Nizami is head priest (Sajjadanashin) of Hazrat Nizammuddin Aulia dargah. Both are missing after they landed at Karachi airport,” she tweeted.
“We have taken up this matter with Government of Pakistan and requested them for an update on both the Indian nationals in Pakistan,” she added.
According to PTI, official sources in New Delhi said that Asif Nizami and Nazim Nizami had gone to visit the famous Daata Darbar shrine in Lahore and were to catch a flight from there to Karachi on Wednesday.
Another report suggest that Pakistan’s spy agency ISI may have picked them up for reasons that are still unclear.
According to family members, while Asif was allowed to go to Karachi, Nazim was stopped at the Lahore airport on grounds of incomplete travel papers.
"While Nazim went missing from Lahore airport, Asif went missing after arriving at the Karachi airport," PTI reported quoted a source.
Asif's elder son Sazid Ali Nizami said that his father and cousin went to Pakistan to offer ‘Chadar’ at Baba Farid's shrine, the master of Baba Nizamuddin. Exchanges between clerics of the Nizamuddin Dargah and the Daata Darbar are part of a regular tradition.
On March 14, they offered another Chadar at Data Darbar Sufi shrine in Lahore. The next day they reached at Lahore airport to take a flight for Karachi. At the Lahore airport, Sazid said, his cousin was stopped by the airport authorities to clear some documentation and my father was asked to board the flight.
“My father reached Karachi airport at 6 pm but my cousin could not join him. At the airport my father talked to my relatives on phone and informed them to come outside, but he did not come," he added.
Sazid further said that mobile phones of his father and cousin were also switched off.
"Pakistani authorities and police are still clueless about them," Sazid said.
Sazid, however, added that Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and other officials had taken the issue seriously and assured me of taking appropriate action over the issue.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Foreign Office has confirmed that a request had been received from India seeking assistance in the recovery of two clerics.
Foreign Office spokesperson, Nafees Zakaria, said the request had been received and forwarded to concerned authorities, who are pursuing the matter.