The Uttar Pradesh Police on Saturday framed charges against 83 Tablighi Jamaat members arrested in six different cases in Saharanpur district for allegedly spreading the coronavirus, The Indian Express reported. There are 57 foreign visitors among the 83 against whom charges were framed.
The members of the Islamic sect are also accused of not informing the district administration about attending an event held in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area in early March. Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference, which later emerged as a coronavirus hotspot. After the event, many participants returned home across the country while others travelled to the meeting, raising concerns about the scale of the potential spread of infection.
“The police today [Saturday] filed chargesheet against total 83 Jamaat members, which includes 57 foreign nationals,” Saharanpur Superintendent of Police Dinesh Kumar P told The Indian Express. “They were accused in six cases lodged in Saharanpur.”
The police said that three of the six cases were filed at Mandi police station and one first information report each was registered at Deoband, Kutubsher and Kotwali Dehat. The charges against the accused were filed under sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 271 (disobedience to quarantine rule) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). It also includes charges under the Foreigners Act and the Epidemic Diseases Act.
A few locals have also been accused of providing accommodation to the Tablighi Jamaat members. “Local residents are out on bail; the foreign nationals are lodged in [a] temporary jail in Saharanpur,” an unidentified police officer said.
Last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs blacklisted over 2,500 Tablighi members and prohibited their entry into the country for 10 years, PTI had reported, citing an unidentified ministry official. The action was reportedly taken after several state government submitted information on those who had been accused of illegally living in mosques and seminaries.
Meanwhile, the Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that there is no need for a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the Tablighi Jamaat event. In an affidavit, the government said that the investigation into the Nizamuddin case is being conducted on a daily basis in accordance with the law.