NEW DELHI – Breaking his long silence, Tablighi Jamaat chief Moulana Saad, who has been in the eye of a storm in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, on Tuesday, rejected all the charges of illegal activities against him and his group.
The authorities had filed cases of culpable homicide and money-laundry against him after he reportedly held a religious congregation at his group’s Nizamuddin Markaz (headquarters) amid the outbreak of COVID-19.
In an interview to the Hindustan Times, the Moulana denied the charge that that he was not cooperating with Delhi police in the investigation. He said, “It is out of question that there would be no support to the investigating authorities. So far, whatever notices we have received from Delhi Police have been duly replied to.”
Setting at rest media speculations about his going underground, Saad said that the police were well-aware of his whereabouts. He said he had kept himself quarantined all this while on the advice of doctors.
“As advised by doctors, I was in self-quarantine and the police was aware of the fact and my whereabouts,” he said adding “We are not experts of social media or the optics of building a narrative. So, it may not have reached all.”
But he disclosed that he had immediately addressed Tablighi members, wherever they were, to come forward and cooperate with the authorities in the measures they are taking to eliminate the Covid risk, whether it’s quarantine, isolation, or testing.
As for meetings without permission, he denied holding any large congregation in the public spaces. But it was “day-to-day activities and religious programs” which routinely take place at the Nizamuddin Markaz. “Being a masjid, I don’t think there is any requirement to seek permission to give sermons or to have other religious discourses within the building,” he reasoned.
On being asked why he did not cancel the meeting in view of COVID threat, he disclosed that the event was pre-scheduled and the participants had started reaching the mosque from far-off places. “Till late February, and even middle March, everything was going on as normal. As soon as the janta curfew took place, we discontinued the programme and evacuated the participants”.
He dismissed the money laundering allegations as “baseless and false” saying the Jamaat has a record of committing no illegal activities and his group takes pride in that. “We are yet to receive any notice in this regard; all such accusations exist only in the media. I am sure that I will be able to give a satisfactory explanation for any such accusation, but for that, I should first be aware of what is the allegation, if any,” he averred.
He said the charge of visa violation against Jamaatis from abroad is unjustified as the preachers have been coming to India this way to take part in the religious activities for decades. The authorities are informed about this. “We always report the presence of foreigners in Markaz Nizamuddin to police authorities; this has been the practice for decades. In my limited understanding, I fail to see how it would amount to violation of the visa rule,” wondered the Moulana.