The Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case against Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad Kandhlawi, trusts linked to the Jamaat and others, PTI reported on Thursday. The sect is linked to a religious congregation held in Nizamuddin in Delhi last month, which later emerged as a coronavirus hotspot.
“The Delhi Police has invoked sections such as 304 [culpable homicide] and 120B [criminal conspiracy] of the Indian Penal Code against the outfit and its members. These fall under the schedule of PMLA [Prevention of Money Laundering Act], ” an unidentified senior Enforcement Directorate official told The Indian Express. “We will now investigate their finances, source of funds and their assets. Depending upon the outcome of the probe, their properties will be attached.”
The agency reportedly acted on the basis of several first information reports registered against the sect and its members. One of them was an FIR registered against Kandhlawi and five others under The Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 and the Indian Penal Code after it was revealed that the Jamaat members had flouted the nationwide lockdown, according to Hindustan Times. The Delhi Police has already registered another case of culpable homicide against the Tablighi Jamaat leader.
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An unidentified official said the Enforcement Directorate will investigate whether the markaz used donations it received for money laundering and if it was moved around through hawala or non-banking channels. “For this, we will examine all their financial transactions, travel details, usage of money in different events and identify the handlers of money,” the official said, adding that Kandhlawi and his associates may be summoned soon. The leader is reportedly in self-quarantine now.
However, the Tablighi Jamaat leader’s lawyer, Tauseef Khan, said he came to know about the money laundering case through media reports. “It is wrong to say this as I have not got any information about it yet,” he said. “Maulana Saad’s family members are cooperating with the investigating agencies. It is baseless to say they are absconding and not cooperating.”
Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference on March 9 and 10. Many also fanned out across the country to recruit people after this, raising concerns about the scale of the potential spread of infection at the conference. The health ministry on Sunday said that the religious gathering had pushed up the doubling rate of cases in India to 4.1 days from the estimated 7.4 days. Over 25,000 Tablighi Jamaat members and their contacts were quarantined in the country after the Centre and the states launched a massive operation to trace them.