On Sunday, a team of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) scientists and Delhi Police Crime Branch officials visited Markaz Nizamuddin, the international headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat. The purpose was to investigate the Jamaat's alleged violation of restrictions when it hosted a religious congregation attended by thousands of people in mid-March. On March 31, the Delhi Police registered a case against Maulana Saad and other officials of Tablighi Jamaat under sections od the Epidemic Disease Act,1897 and Section 269, 270, 271 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code. In the FIR, it has been stated that the congregation failed to take safety measures for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Responding to the police's questionnaire, Maulana Saad stated that he couldn't answer questions as he is under quarantine and the documents are locked in the Markaz building.
Delhi: A team of Delhi Police Crime Branch has arrived at Markaz Nizamuddin for an investigation into the case; Around 2300 people were brought out from Markaz on Apr 1. An FIR has been registered against Tablighi Jamaat head Maulana Saad and others under the Epidemic Disease Act pic.twitter.com/NJ6fYLLtwi— ANI (@ANI) April 5, 2020
The controversy erupted when 24 people who had attended the religious congregation at Markaz Nizamuddin tested positive for COVID-19. Thousands of people who participated in the event travelled to various states in India, risking the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 1746 individuals including 216 foreigners were staying in the Markaz building as of March 21.
As per the Delhi government, the religious congregation violated the prevailing orders, which prohibited large gatherings. However, the Markaz claimed that it had not flouted the rules and discontinued the religious function after the announcement of the nationwide lockdown. Instead, it alleged that many of the attendees were stuck due to the unavailability of transport services.
On March 2, the Ministry of Home Affairs blacklisted 960 foreigners who were involved in Tablighi Jamaat activities despite being on a tourist visa. Moreover, their Indian visa has been cancelled. The MHA directed the Delhi Police and DGPs of all concerned states to take legal action against these foreigners for violating the provisions of Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry on Saturday revealed that 30% of the total COVID-19 cases in India were linked to the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation. The Ministry added that it would have taken 7.4 days for the number of cases to double instead of the current 4.1 days if the Jamaat function had not taken place.