India: Nizamuddin’s Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Mohd. Saad Kandhalvi has responded to the notice sent to him by Delhi Police crime branch which contained 26 questions seeking details about the Markaz.
An FIR was also lodged against Maulana Saad and six others for holding a religious congregation in Delhi allegedly in violation of the lockdown orders and not maintaining social distancing to contain the spread of Covid-19, officials said on Thursday.
In a nine-page response to the notice, Maulana Saad, who is reported to be at large presently, expressed his inability to respond to the questions asked by police as has self-quarantined. He said that since the Nizamuddin Markaz is closed, he will respond to the questions when it is opened again.
A five-member Delhi Police crime branch team visited Nizamuddin Markaz to investigate the case. The team was at the Nizamuddin Police Station on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Maulana Saad’s lawyer denied reports of the Tablighi Jamaat chief being absconding. Lawyer Shahid Ali said that the media has been saying that Maulana Saad has run away but if the police have given him a notice then how is he at large. We have to reply to the crime branch but we have asked for time, Shahid Ali said.
Maulana Saad’s son and Jamaat Committee member Mohd. Yusuf Saad gave a written statement regarding the notice to IANS on Friday. According to Yusuf the statement was drafted in consultation with Maulana Saad.
“Media reports about the Jamaat headquarters since March 31 are only a part of conspiracy and attempt to defame the Markaz. Tablighi Jamaat doesn’t have any connection with any political party,” the statement read with the acceptance that the crime branch has registered a case against Maulana Saad. Maulana Saad, in his written statement, has termed the incident of Jamaat headquarters guests being positive for coronavirus, “a co-incidence” only.
“This is a co-incidence. As soon as we got to know about the coronavirus, we banned the entry of guests in the headquarters. We have a record of every guest. The Jamaat headquarters made all possible efforts to send back all the guests to their homes,” Maulana Saad said in his statement.
The statement further read: “Soon after the Prime Minister declared complete lockdown on the midnight of March 24 following the Janata Curfew, the government machinery had stopped the event organised at the Jamaat headquarters. The event was postponed for undeclared time. In the last few days, all people who have attended the event, whether they are Indians or foreigners, have been evacuated. They have either been quarantined at various places or been hospitalised”.
According to a source, in a reply to the crime branch on Friday, the Jamaat headquarters said: “The police have sealed the markaz. Most of the agents of Maulana Saad are now in quarantine homes. Hence, it is impossible to provide these evidences. So, when the Jamaat headquarters will be opened and all managers will be assembled, the crime branch will be provided with the evidences”.
The Islamic organisation landed in the spotlight after a number of its members who attended a congregation held in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area in March of this year, tested positive for the novel coronavirus in various states across the country.
In some states such as Rajasthan, officials have claimed that that members of this congregation accounted for most of the newly confirmed cases of infection in the past few days. Reports have even added that 56 per cent of the new coronavirus cases reported in India over the past 72 hours can be traced back to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation which was attended by devotees not just from across India but even foreign countries.