Delhi Police send second notice to Tablighi Jamaat over Markaz event
The Delhi Police’s crime branch, which is probing Tablighi Jamaat head Maulana Saad and his associates, has sent a second notice to Saad comprising six questions pertaining to a religious gathering in March in the Islamic missionary group’s six-storey headquarters in the Nizamuddin area.
Saad and six other top Jamaat functionaries have been booked for violating prohibitory orders issued to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The Jamaat headquarters, also known as Markaz, where the congregation took place last month, has become a hot spot of Covid-19 infections in the country. It has been linked to over 1,000 infections, or about 30% of the total cases, in the country.
Saad’s counsel, advocate Fuzail Ayyubi, confirmed that the police have sent a second questionnaire with more queries.
“The investigating officer has sought some information in the second questionnaire (notice). We filed our reply to most of the questions and told them that for some questions, we need time. We could not get some of the records they have sought because of the lockdown. They have asked for some clarifications in the second notice,” he said.
On April 1, the investigating officer of the case sent a list of 26 questions to Saad and requested him to provide information to those questions.
Crime branch officials did not comment on the progress of the investigation. Details of the second notice, sent on Monday, was immediately not available.
The FIR (first information report) against Saad has been registered under sections of The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. He also faces charges of criminal conspiracy.
In the first notice, police sought details of the CCTV cameras inside the building. They also asked Saad to preserve the CCTV data. Other information sought in the first notice included original register/data/and records maintained by the management of the Markaz regarding all those who participated in the gathering after March 12. The police also sought details of all persons, including foreigners, who were present in the congregation last month. Question number 17 in the first notice was related to details of the steps that the management took to disperse the gathering after the government’s prohibitory orders mid-March.
The police have accused Saad of ignoring the government’s March 13 and March 16 orders that put a ban on religious congregations and assembly of more than 200 persons in Delhi. The police have said that despite the orders, there were more than 2,000 persons inside the building.
Amid reports that Saad has gone missing, his lawyer, Ayyubi, said: “ We have not been summoned yet. The Maulana is in self-quarantine on the advice of the doctors. He will cooperate with the police when they summon him.”
Meanwhile, the police have placed barricades on roads leading to the Markaz after evacuating over 2,400 people, including about 250 foreigners, from the building with the help of health department officers in an operation that began on March 29 and ended on March 31. The evacuees were either sent to hospitals or at the government’s quarantine centres. A team of forensic officers from the government also visited the building on Sunday as part of the investigation.