NEWS

Indian clerics who went missing in Pakistan return home

NEW DELHI: The two Indian clerics, including the head priest of Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, who went missing in Pakistan last week, returned here on Monday.

Syed Asif Nizami and his nephew Nazim Ali Nizami were welcomed at the airport by their family members and a group of well wishers.

Amir Nizami, son of Asif Nizami who is the head priest (Sajjadanashin) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah, thanked the Indian government for its intervention in ensuring the return of his father and Ali Nizami. "Both are fine. We are thankful to the Indian Government for all the support in securing their return," Amir told PTI. The two clerics did not speak to the waiting media. Ibrahim Nizami, grandson of the 80-year-old head priest, said special prayers will be offered today at the Nizamuddin Dargah to "thank the almighty" for their return. Asif Nizami and Nazim Ali Nizami had gone to Lahore on March 8 but went missing in the middle of last week following which India took up the issue with Islamabad. The main purpose of the visit of Asif to Pakistan was to see his sister in Karachi. On Saturday, Pakistan had conveyed to India that the clerics were traced and had reached Karachi. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had taken up the issue with Pakistan Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and requested him to trace the missing clerics. on Sunday, Swaraj had spoken to Asif Nizami and said they were safe. According to Pakistani media reports, both clerics had been in "interior Sindh where there was no communication network" and that is why they could not inform their relatives about their whereabouts. Earlier, Pakistani sources had said the two clerics were in the custody of Pakistan's intelligence agency over their alleged links with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). They were offloaded from Karachi-bound Shaheen Airlines on March 14 at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, the Pakistani sources had said.--PTI

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