CBI registers preliminary enquiry to probe finances, international linkages of Tablighi Jamaat
In further trouble for the Tablighi Jamaat, the Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) to investigate international linkages as well as foreign funding of the religious organisation, two officials familiar with the development said.
The CBI probe will primarily focus on whether Tablighi Jamaat violated any norms of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) while receiving donations from individuals or entities abroad, the officials added.
The agency sleuths have already collected relevant probe documents from Delhi Police Crime Branch and analyzing the same. It will also take copies of 47 charge sheets filed by the Crime Branch this week against over 900 foreign members of the Jamaat. The charge sheets filed over three days run into over 40,000 pages.
“CBI has registered a PE against organisers of Tablighi Jamaat and others on a complaint alleging that the organisers and trustees of Jamaat were indulging into dubious cash transactions by using illegal/unfair means and also in non-disclosure of the receipts of foreign funds to the authorities,” a CBI spokesperson said on Friday.
As per CBI Standard Operating Procedure, a Preliminary Enquiry is the first step to verify any irregularities following which a decision is taken on whether or not to file an FIR.
The central agency’s involvement in the case is crucial as it has significant experience in international probes, including finding money trails and international links of individuals.
“We will look into financial operations of Tablighi Jamaat and the people behind its funding here in India and abroad; antecedents of people associated with it and its sister organisations,” said one of the officers cited above.
The agency is likely to summon office bearers of the religious organisation in Delhi and other cities including its chief Maulana Muhammad Saad after studying all the documents. If required, CBI may even take help of foreign agencies at a later stage through proper channels, said the second officer.
Tablighi Jamaat’s lawyer Fuzail Ayyubi didn’t respond to calls till filing of this report.
Delhi Police Crime Branch had filed a criminal case against Jamaat chief Saad and six other officials of the organisation in March for defying a series of government directives, which curbed religious and large gatherings to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the national capital.
More than 2,300 people, including foreigners, were evacuated from the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in March-end and lodged in quarantine facilities in Delhi by the authorities.
The government had claimed that members of the Tablighi Jamaat were responsible for almost 35% Covid-19 cases in the country till April 7. Over 1,800 foreign Tablighi workers were blacklisted by ministry of home affairs for violating visa conditions.
The Enforcement Directorate is already probing the organisation and Saad under the money laundering act. The anti-money laundering probe agency is investigating how the money received by Markaz exchanged hands and if hawala networks were used for the same.
It has been noticed in the past that several terrorists belonging to Indian Mujahideen and operatives in India inspired by ISIS had attended Tablighi Jamaat events.
However, the Tablighi Jamaat has never been named in any terror cases in India.