Tablighi Jamaat chief yet to submit his Covid-19 test report to police

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New Delhi: Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad, who has been booked for holding a weeks-long gathering in March, ignoring guidelines prohibiting meetings of more than a certain number of people, resulting in a jump in coronavirus infections, is yet to submit his Covid-19 test report from a government lab despite being asked to, the Delhi police on Monday. A fresh notice was likely to be issued to him to get tested and join the investigation, te police added.

Six other office bearers of Jamaat, a Muslim missionary organisation who were booked along with Saad have been questioned in the case, a crime branch officer said requesting anonymity. Saad is yet to appear before the investigators.

“We have not received Maulana Saad’s Covid-19 test report from a government hospital. A notice in this regard was served to him a few weeks ago, but no response has come so far,” the officer said.

Saad had earlier tested negative for Covid-19 at a private lab and submitted his report to the crime branch team probing the case. The team has insisted on a government lab’s test report.

Jamaat spokesman Shahid Ali said they have cooperated with the investigation in compliance with directions issued without any default. “Maulana Saad was found negative on being tested for Covid-19 and it was duly informed to the investigation agency. We are committed to appear before the investigating officer (IO) as and when directed either by the IO or by the honourable court,” he said.

The officer cited above said a second round of the questioning of the six office bearers has also been planned and notices seeking their presence before the investigators would be served soon.

Thiusands of people, including over 900 foreigners from at least 34 countries, attended the congregation at the Jamaat’s headquarters in Delhi’s Nizamuddin. Over 2,300 people, including foreigners, were evacuated from the headquarters in late March and lodged in various quarantine facilities. The congregation was the source of early clusters of infection in both Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

The crime branch on March 31 filed a criminal case against Saad and the six others for defying government directives, which curbed religious and large gatherings, to contain the spread of Covid-19. Charges related to culpable homicide not amounting to murder and criminal conspiracy were added to the case after some of the attendees died of the disease.

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