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10 days after Tablighi leader ‘disappeared’, lawyer says he’s in self-quarantine, not hiding

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The Nizamuddin Markaz mosque in Delhi, centre of Tablighi Jamaat activities in India | Image: ThePrintTeam
File image of the Nizamuddin Markaz mosque in Delhi, which was the centre of Tablighi Jamaat activities | ThePrintTeam


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New Delhi: Tablighi Jamaat leader Mohammad Saad has quarantined himself in southeast Delhi and will join the investigation after 14 April, when the nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end, ThePrint has learnt.

“To say that Mohammad Saad has gone into hiding will be wrong. He has quarantined himself and will be available for investigation in the coming days,” Tauseef Khan, Saad’s lawyer said.

“The sections that have been put against him and others are all bailable offences. There is no need for anticipatory bail in any of those, and we are ready to join the investigation, so there is no question of anyone going into hiding,” he said.

The Tablighi Jamaat was thrust into the national spotlight after a congregation it held last month resulted in a mass spread of the highly infectious Covid-19 disease. In the national capital itself, 430 of the 720 cases are related to event, according to the latest health bulletin by the Delhi government.

The congregation had thousands in attendance, including foreigners from South Asia, making the event the largest known vector for the novel coronavirus in the region.


Also read: ‘Thoughtless classification’ of Covid-19 data fuelling Islamophobia: Delhi minorities panel


Police FIR against Saad

Saad and seven others were named in an FIR lodged by Delhi Police Crime Branch on 31 March. The FIR is based on a complaint by Station House Officer, Nizamuddin, for violating government orders and holding a congregation at the Markaz mosque in Delhi, despite the Covid-19 threat.

The cleric and six others were booked under sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act, and five sections of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal conspiracy.

The Delhi Police has also sent a notice to Saad under Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, asking him to furnish all documents relevant to the investigation.

The FIR states that on 21 March the police contacted the Tablighi leadership and reminded them of the government’s order and also requested them to not host the congregation, but the organisation went ahead with the programmw anyway.

The nationwide lockdown was imposed on 25 March. A few days later, Saad fell off the radar.


Also read: Call it a mistake, not conspiracy against India, say Muslim scholars on Tablighi Jamaat event


PFI-Tablighi link & CAA protests

According to a Delhi police source, they are also investigating the source of funds for the Tablighi Jamaat’s events being organised, and their link to the Popular Front of India (PFI).

In January this year, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had submitted a report to the Ministry of Home Affairs stating that the PFI — a Kerala-headquartered Muslim organisation — mobilised money to “finance the cost of demonstrations and gherao against the CAA Bill till 6 January 2020”.

ED had claimed that the agency came across bank account details to suggest that Rs 120.5 crore was credited to accounts related to the PFI and that there is a direct correlation between the dates of deposits/withdrawals from these accounts and the dates of demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in different parts of the country.

The Crime Branch now has sent a detailed questionnaire to the Tablighi Jamaat, not just on the congregation and its participants, but also sought details of the organisation’s income tax returns of the last three years, bank account statements and relevant PAN numbers.

“This information is required to know where the funds of these events were being arranged from. The investigation is underway,” a senior police officer said.


Also read: Tablighi Jamaat event attendees are like human bombs, must be traced & treated: Fadnavis


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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