The central government on Friday told the Supreme Court that the Markaz which organised a congregation of Tablighi Jamaat members at its headquarters in Nizamuddin in mid-March paid no heed to the concerns raised by the police about the situation arising out of the spread of the coronavirus.
In an affidavit filed through Ram Vilas Premi, under-secretary in the home ministry, the centre claimed that the Markaz management was apprised of the coronavirus situation and risks associated with it on March 21 by Delhi Police. The Muslim seminary was asked to send back its foreign members to their respective countries and Indian members to their states. However, the centre says that management of Tablighi Jamaat turned a deaf ear to their instructions.
“No one took account of the directions issued by the Delhi Police. On the contrary, as per an alleged audio recording of Maulana Mohd Saad, which was found to be circulated on social media, the Markaz chief asked his followers to violate lockdown and social distancing norms and continue attending religious gatherings,” the affidavit said.
The Centre further said that the risk presented by COVID-19 was conveyed to Saad and other members of Markaz management on several occasions during the meetings held in the police station but the organisation “deliberately “disobeyed” the directions of authorities.
“Maulana Mohd Saad and Markaz management did not communicate about the organisation of a gathering to any health department or government agency. Written notices issued to Maulana Saad and Markaz management were ignored,” it alleged.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, in its affidavit, asserted that the investigation into the violations committed by Tablighi Jamaat is being conducted on a day-to-day basis in conformity with the authority of law by the Delhi Police, and a report will be submitted before the court in a time-bound manner.
“A missionary visa is granted to a foreigner whose sole objective of visiting India is missionary work not involving proselytization. It is submitted as per the visa policy, the visa is not to be granted to preachers and evangelists who desire to come to India on propaganda campaigns, whether on their own or at the invitation of any organisation in India,” the MHA said.
“The Union Home Ministry has taken cognisance of the actions suggested by SHO police station Hazrat Nizamuddin to the crime branch against necessary action as per law against Maulana Mohd Saad and others of Markaz for their unlawful acts. The MHA has put 960 foreigners present in India on tourist visas for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities under blacklist. The ministry has also asked all the DGPs to initiate necessary legal action against all the violators who attended the Markaz congregation,” the affidavit said.
PIL filed into Supreme Court for CBI probe into Markaz event
A petition was filed in the top court seeking a CBI probe into the matter. A person named Supriya Pandita had filed the PIL to bring to forth the alleged lapses by the Delhi government and Delhi Police that led to the congregation that later turned out to be a potent coronavirus hotspot.
The Centre assured the apex court that the probe the Delhi Police into the incident is at an advanced stage and a CBI investigation is infructuous. The bench headed by CJI Bobde adjourned the case for two weeks for the petitioner to file a response.