Indian Sufi clerics may have been 'detained' by agencies linked with Pakistan Army
The two clerics had travelled to Pakistan on March 8. Photograph: (ANI)
The two missing Indian clerics from Delhi's famous Sufi shrine, Nizamuddin Dargah, have been "detained" by agencies linked with the Pakistan Army, according to Punjab police sources in Lahore.
However, officially Punjab police officials are denying such reports.
On the other hand, Sindh police chief in a statement released to media said that the Pakistani police's Special Branch department, which looks after the movement of foreign nationals in the country, and especially that of Indians has no records of any of these individuals landing in Karachi.
Syed Asif Ali Nizami, 80, the head cleric of the Delhi's Nizamuddin Dargah, along with his nephew, Nazim Ali Nizami, 60, went missing in Pakistan yesterday while on a pilgrimage to the famous Daata Darbar Sufi shrine in Lahore.
The two clerics were set to fly to Karachi yesterday but they suddenly disappeared and their phones were switched off, the family's last contact with Syed Asif Ali Nizami was at Karachi airport.
No info on whereabouts of Hammad,local person who works at airport(Karachi) and had gone to receive them:Sajid Ali Nizami,son of Asif Nizami pic.twitter.com/s6nCN1QSvz— ANI (@ANI_news) March 17, 2017
India's foreign ministry has been in touch with its Pakistan counterpart but no information has been forthcoming so far about the two clerics.
Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj in a tweet this morning said that she had "requested the Pakistani government for an update on both the Indian nationals". The Dargah committee of Hazrat Nizamuddin conducted a meeting after the head cleric and his nephew went missing in Pakistan yesterday.
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
Earlier, Pakistan informed India that they were pursuing the matter related to the two missing Sufi clerics "seriously", media reports said.
Local press has remained largely silent on the issue, with limiting itself to running statements of the Pakistani foreign office who have stated that they had received a request to ascertain the missing persons whereabouts from its Indian counterpart and had forwarded the same request to the interior ministry, which deals with law enforcement in the country.
It is pertinent to mention here that many local journalists that WION spoke to also hinted towards the involvement of agencies but did not want to go on record with such information.
Also, the management personnel of Data Darbar shrine in Lahore, where the two clerics were reportedly last seen visiting, were not forthcoming in sharing any information, while adding that that they usually do not have any direct contacts with the management or clerics of Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah in Delhi, India.
In past, the Pakistani military has been accused and found involved of illegally detaining people it deems suspicious, as was the recent case of the missing social media Pakistani activists in January this year which received international attention. Some of these activists have now been released. Since then, they all have reportedly fled Pakistan. One of them, Waqas Goraya recently went on record with an international news organization to claim that he was abducted by an institution linked with the Pakistan Army.