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Tablighi Jamaat chief Saad charged with culpable homicide for spread of Covid-19

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People suspected of coronavirus being transported to various hospitals after Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin, Delhi | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
People in Delhi being transported to hospitals after the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin held a congregation that resulted in the mass spread of Covid-19 | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint


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New Delhi: The Delhi Police Crime Branch has booked Tablighi Jamaat chief Mohammad Saad and six others for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, ThePrint has learnt.

According to a source in the police, section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was added to an existing FIR that was filed against the seven of them on 31 March.

The FIR states that the Jamaat, including Tablighi chief Mohammad Saad, flouted all directions by the government, did not take safety precautions and risked the health of the participants as well as the general public by exposing them to a highly infectious disease.

“The sections were added because first, Saad did not inform the health department or any other agency about the huge gathering, despite several notices to him. Also, he and others named in the FIR caused a situation wherein a highly infectious disease spread and threatened the life of inmates and general public at large,” a police source said.

The cleric and six others have also been booked under sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act, and five other sections of the IPC, including criminal conspiracy.

According to the FIR, the menace and hazard of Covid-19 was verbally conveyed to Saad and the management of Nizamuddin Markaz on several occasions, including during meetings held at a police station, but the group did not pay heed to it.

The Tablighi Jamaat made headlines after a congregation it held last month resulted in the mass spread of the highly infectious Covid-19 disease. 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.

In the national capital itself, over 1,080 of the 1,561 cases are related to it, according to the latest health bulletin by the Delhi government, which categorises the cases as ‘Special Operations’.

“They deliberately, wilfully, negligently and malignantly disobeyed directions … Written notices were also issued twice to Saad and management of Markaz but they did not pay any heed,” the FIR says.

It also says that the premises was inspected by the sub-divisional magistrate, Defence Colony, on various occasions, including from 26-30 March, at which time around 1,300 devotees from various states and foreign countries were found residing there without following social distancing.

“No one was wearing mask or using santiser,” the FIR notes.


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


‘Will join investigation’

While the Delhi Police claims that Saad has not yet joined the investigation, his lawyer Tauseef Khan said the police have not yet served any notice.

Amid speculation that Saad had gone into hiding, his lawyer said that he had quarantined himself and would join the investigation after 14 April, ThePrint had earlier reported.

In the first week of April, the Delhi Police had sent a notice to Saad under Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, asking him to furnish all documents relevant to the investigation.

“We had partially joined the investigation that day itself by giving a reply to that notice. We are willing to join the investigation, but we have not been sent any further notice. The police are trying to malign the reputation of the Jamaat and Saad,” Khan said.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police have also issued look out circulars against 1,900 foreigners who came to India to take part in the March congregation.


Also read: Race to trace Tablighi Jamaat inmates, says Express, Telegraph on RBI’s ‘unkindest cuts’


 

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

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doctor with a stethoscope
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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