Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad will join probe after quarantine period is over

Vikash Aiyappa

New Delhi, Apr 09: Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad Kandhalvi will be join investigation after his quarantine period is over, said his lawyer.

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On Tuesday, Delhi Police's Crime Branch lodged an FIR against seven people, including the cleric, on a complaint by SHO Nizamuddin for holding a religious congregation here allegedly in violation of the lockdown orders and not maintaining social distancing to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The Delhi Police's Crime Branch wrote to Saad and others on Wednesday, seeking the details under Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

"Saad is currently under self quarantine and will join investigation once the period of 14 days gets over," his advocate, Tauseef Khan, told PTI.

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According to the FIR, the Delhi Police contacted the authorities of Markaz on March 21 and reminded them of the government order that prohibited any political or religious gathering of more than 50 people.

However, no one paid any heed to the police's direction, it said.

Moreover, an audio recording purportedly of Saad was found in circulation on WhatsApp on March 21, in which he was heard asking his followers to defy the lockdown and social distancing and to attend the religious gathering of the Markaz.

On March 24, the government ordered 21-day nationwide lockdown and restricted any social, political or religious gathering.

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The same day a meeting was held at Hazarat Nizamuddin police station between SHO and officer bearers of Markaz. The meeting was attended by Saad, Mohammad Ashraf, Mohammad Salman, Yunus, Mursaleen Saifi, Jishan and Mufti Shehzad and they were informed about lockdown orders.

It was found that despite repeated efforts, they did not inform the Health Department or any other government agency about the huge gathering inside the Markaz and deliberately disobeyed government orders.

The sub-divisional magistrate of Defence Colony inspected the premises several times and found that around 1,300 people, including foreign nationals, were residing there without maintaining social distance. It was also found that there were no arrangements of hand sanitizers and face masks at the premises.

So far, thousands of COVID-19 cases across the country have been found to be linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation held in Delhi last month.

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More than 25,500 Tablighi members and their contacts have been quarantined in the country after the Centre and the state governments conducted a "mega operation" to identify them, a senior Union Health Ministry official said on Monday.

At least 9,000 people participated in the religious congregation in Nizamuddin. Later, many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country.

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