A Delhi court has discharged eight members of the Tablighi Jamaat who were facing trial at Saket district court, stating that there was “no prima facie evidence” against them. As reported by The Indian Express, while a majority of foreign Tablighi Jamaat members had taken plea deals and left for their countries, 44 had decided to face trial in Delhi.
The Jamaat was in news in March after the Nizamuddin Markaz emerged as a hotspot. As many as 955 foreigners were chargesheeted by Delhi Police for allegedly violating Visa conditions, indulging in missionary activities and not following the government’s Covid guidelines.
The court also discharged the rest of the 36 under section 14 of the Foreigners Act and IPC sections 270 and 271. They still face charges under the Epidemic Act, Disaster Management Act and other IPC sections.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur, while discharging the eight, observed, “The entire chargesheet and documents attached thereto neither show his presence or participation at the Markaz during the relevant period. There is also no document on record to suggest that he was one of the participants involved in Tabligh’s work as are the allegations. Neither the copy of the register seized and placed on record, nor the list of SDM providing details of persons who were sent from the Markaz either to hospitals or quarantine centers, or the list of persons who were part of the Markaz and were tested for Covid, specifically mentions the name of the present accused, so as to even show his prima facie involvement or presence, as alleged in the chargesheet, at the Markaz. Even for this court to proceed further, there has to be some prima facie evidence against the accused, which is not so…”
On the discharge applications of the remaining 36, it said, “It is pertinent to mention that there is no disclosure statement of any of the accused on record; rather there is a questionnaire filled up by the accused wherein he has stated that he is a follower.”
The court also went through the statements of assistant sub-inspectors Mahboob Ali and Rakesh Kumar and stated: “… if these statements are read as a whole, they do not specifically allege the role of the accused in professing and propagating the principles and doctrines of the Tablighi Jamaat, and are merely general statements.”
“In fact, there is not an iota of evidence to suggest that the present accused had in any manner professed or were propagating the principles and doctrines of the Tablighi Jamaat or had indulged in Tablighi work as alleged. The chargesheet is silent on this fact and the register relied upon by the prosecution only corroborates the fact of their presence or attendance at the Tablighi Jamaat, but it nowhere shows that the accused had violated the conditions mentioned in… the Visa Manual.”
The Delhi Police had opposed the discharge application of the accused persons by submitting that there was “sufficient prima facie evidence” in the chargesheet and documents to proceed against them. Police had submitted an MHA circular to state that the accused arrived in India on a tourist Visa but were “were involved in Tablighi work” in violation of the Visa Manual.
The Tablighis were represented by lawyers Rebecca John and Ashima Mandla.
Nurbek Dosmukanbet Uulu, a 45-year-old welder from Kyrgyzstan, was among the eight discharged by court. He had arrived in India on December 8, 2019 and spent around 25 days in Patna before moving to Delhi.
“I had left the markaz building much before the outbreak of Covid and was in another mosque in Delhi. I was taken to a quarantine centre at Dwarka from that mosque and had to spend the months of April and May there. At the centre, I underwent 4 Covid tests and was negative every single time,” Uulu said.
Uulu, the sole breadwinner in his family, said his wife and four children await him back home. “I feel happy that the truth has been established. I did not break any law at all. Even after so much false news and propaganda, at least there are judges who seek the truth,” he said.
(With inputs from Sourav Roy Barman)
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