Markaz management deliberately ignored police directions on coronavirus situation: Centre tells SC
New Delhi/IBNS: The Markaz mosque that organised the Tablighi Jamaat at Delhi's Nizamuddin area in March ignored directions from the government despite being informed of the situation arising from coronavirus spread, the Central government told the Supreme Court on Friday, said media reports
The government said in an affidavit filed through Ram Vilas Premi, under secretary in the home ministry, the Markaz's management was informed by Delhi Police on March 21 of the threat posed by COVID-19, a Hindustan Times report said.
The affidavit said the organisation was asked to send foreign members of the Jamaat back to their countries and Indian members to their states.
“However, no one paid any heed to the lawful directions of Delhi Police and to the contrary, an audio recording purportedly by Maulana Mohd Saad, head of the Tablighi Jamaat, was found to be in circulation on social media in which the speaker was heard asking his followers to defy the lockdown and social distancing and to attend the religious gathering of Markaz,” the affidavit said, reported HT.
Subsequently, the risk posed by Covid-19 was conveyed to Saad and the Markaz's management during meetings at police station on several occasions but the organisation deliberately ignored the warnings of the government.
The affidavit informed the apex court that Maulana Mohd Saad and Markaz management did not inform any health department or any government agency about the huge gatherings inside the mosques, said the report.
"Written notices were also issued to Maulana Saad and Markaz management. However, they refused to pay any heed,” it alleged, the report added.
On March 30, the Nizamuddin area of Delhi was sealed after coronavirus cases with links to the religious congregation organised by the Tablighi Jamaat came to light.
At least 16,500 people people visited the Jamaat’s headquarters in Nizamuddin during March 13-24, said the HT report.
In April a person named Supriya Pandita approached the Supreme Court alleging lapses by the Delhi government and the Delhi Police that led to the congregation by the Markaz despite rising threat due to coronavirus.
“Ignoring all social distancing norms to avoid the deadly coronavirus, hundreds had been staying in the 100-year-old mosque since March 8. More than 2,000 delegates from Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan attended the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat,” Pandita told the court, quoted the HT report.
Pandita also alleged that Delhi Police failed to arrest Saad who organised the programme.
However, the Centre in its response said that the investigation by Delhi Police is in its advanced stage and a CBI intervention is not needed.
In his petition, Pandita accused that several people who attended the Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin tested coronavirus positive in different parts of India, causing cluster transmission.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde heard the case on May 27 and sought a reply from the Centre. The case was adjourned for two weeks.
The Centre has said the Delhi Police is conducting an investigation into the incident on a day-to-day basis. It also gave details of the actions taken against violators.
The Centre's affidavit added: “SHO police station Hazrat Nizamuddin requested the crime branch to take necessary action as per law against Maulana Mohd Saad and others of Markaz for their unlawful acts. Union Ministry of Home Affairs has blacklisted 960 foreigners present in India on tourist visas for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities. MHA has also directed DGPs of all concerned states/union territories to take necessary legal action against all violators (who attended Markaz)."