Jamaat organisers wilfully violated norms: Police tells HC | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times

Jamaat organisers wilfully violated norms: Police tells HC

ByRicha Banka, New Delhi
May 26, 2020 11:17 PM IST

The Delhi Police on Tuesday informed the Delhi high court that Tablighi Jamaat head Maulana Saad and management officials of the Nizamuddin Markaz had “deliberately, wilfully, negligently and malignantly” disobeyed the government’s directives pertaining to the ban on holding large gatherings.

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The information was given to the court, which was hearing a plea seeking the release of 916 foreign nationals who had been quarantined at government facilities after attending congregations at the Markaz. The police informed the court they were questioning 900 attendees and none of them had been arrested or detained.

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In the status report, the police said they held several meetings with Saad and Markaz officials to explain to them the about the Covid-19 situation. Despite this, they did not inform the health department or other government agency about large gatherings inside the Markaz, the report read.

Standing counsel (criminal), Delhi government, advocate Rahul Mehra told the court on Tuesday that written notices had been issued to Maulana Saad and the Markaz management, but they did not pay heed to it. The gatherings, which took place from March 10 to 23, had led to the single largest source of the Covid-19 transmission across the city in March and April, following which the headquarters in Nizamuddin Basti was also sealed.

At least 21 persons evacuated from the Markaz had tested positive for Covid-19 following the evacuation process from March 29-31. Until April 17, when the Delhi government mentioned Jamaat-linked cases in its health bulletin, at least 1,080 attendees had tested positive, with the last positive case being recorded on April 14.

“...on March 21, the authorities of Markaz at Tablighi Jammat Headquarters were contacted by Delhi Police. One Mufti Shahzad was apprised of the situation arising out of the spread of the virus and asked to take immediate action for preventing the spread of this disease. He was directed to send the foreigner devotees back to their respective countries and other Indian persons to their respective native places...Moreover, an audio recording purportedly by Saad, was found in circulation on WhatsApp on March 21, in which the speaker was heard asking his followers to defy the lockdown and social distancing and to attend the religious gathering...,” the report said.

Delhi Police registered a case against Saad and six other management officials for defying a series of government orders, which banned all gatherings.

Quoting the sub-divisional magistrate’s inspection report, the police said that 1,300 attendees were found residing on the premises, without maintaining social distancing.

“...No one was seen following directions such as use of facial mask, hand sanitisers, etc. Maulana Saad, others named above and the management of Markaz had deliberately, wilfully, negligently and malignantly committed acts which were in direct contravention to the lawful directions of the Government and public servants...,” the report read.

In the last week of March, police and health officials had evacuated over 2,000 Jamaat attendees and sent them to hospitals or quarantine centres. Many who had fled the building and staying across the city were traced and sent to the quarantine facilities. The police are yet to summon Saad to join the investigation. They have got a lookout circular issued against him to prevent him from leaving the country.

Saad’s counsel, Fuzail Ayyubi, did not respond to multiple calls and a text message for comment on the police’s status report. Ayyubi had earlier denied the police’s allegations and said that the Tablighi Jamaat members were trapped because of the lockdown and could not leave the building due to lack of conveyance.

Standing counsel, Mehra, on Tuesday told the court that over 900 Jamaat attendees had joined the investigation. Mehra said the police would file more charge-sheets in the case at the trial court within a week. On Tuesday, the police filed 20 charge-sheets against 82 Tablighi Jamaat members.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocates Rebecca John and Ashima Mandla said all foreign nationals who tested negative be released from institutional quarantine to alternative accommodations, factoring social distancing.

The police told the court that the passports of 723 foreign nationals and identity cards of 23 Nepali nationals have been seized.

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