The two Indian clerics who were believed to have gone missing in Pakistan returned to New Delhi on Monday. They met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj later in the day in the Capital. Syed Asif Ali Nizami, the head priest of Delhi’s Hazrat Nizammuddin Aulia Dargah, and his nephew Syed Nazim Ali Nizami were not traceable between March 14 and 18.
The clerics blamed Pakistani daily Ummat for falsely reporting that the duo were agents of India’s Research and Analysis Wing and had links with the Muttahida Quami Movement. “There is a newspaper Ummat [in Pakistan] that has printed false statements,” Nazim Nizami said. Asif Nizami’s son Sajid said that they had been detained by Pakistani officials on the basis of that report.
The incident had kicked up a storm with reports suggesting that the two had been detained by Pakistani intelligence authorities. It was reported that they were taken into custody for interrogation because of their alleged links to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. The clerics surfaced in Karachi on Saturday and said they had gone to meet devotees in the interiors of Sindh, which does not have phone connectivity.
Reports had earlier said that the 80-year-old and his nephew had visited Lahore’s Daata Darbar shrine and were supposed to fly back to India from Karachi on Wednesday. They had visited their relatives in Karachi before heading to Lahore, from where they went missing. Swaraj had taken up the matter with Islamabad.
“I would like to thank the Indian government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sushma Sawarj and Rajnath Singh,” Amir Nizami, son of one of the clerics, told the news agency. “We are very happy that our government made efforts to help them return.”