The Enforcement Directorate has charged Maulana Saad Kandhalvi, the chief of the Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat with money laundering. The congregation which occurred in Delhi last month set off India's biggest cluster of coronavirus cases.
According to a report by NDTV, 56-year-old Kandhalvi, was also charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder by the police earlier on April 16 for holding the gathering last month at its "Markaz" or headquarters in Delhi's Nizamuddin.
The Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) against the chief of the Muslim Seminary, Maulana Saad and trusts linked to the Jamaat and others was filed by the agency based on a Delhi Police case. Eight associates of Maulana Saad have also been booked by the ED.
According to news agency PTI reported, the agency is investigating the finances and transactions of the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary movement, and its office-bearers over the last few days and has obtained various documents from banks and financial intelligence-gathering agencies.
The officials said that certain donations received by the organisation from foreign and domestic sources are also under the scanner of the agency. The ED will also investigate whether donation received was part of money laundering and whether hawala channels were utilised.
The Income Tax department is also likely to delve into possible non-declaration of income, tax evasion by trustees, including Saad, and channelling of funds for personal gains.
Maulana Saad who is currently in self-quarantine is expected to be summoned by the ED for questioning in the case.
The directorate is seeking a medical opinion regarding his claim of self-quarantine amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Kandhalvi was supposed to join the investigations against him on April 13, at the end of his quarantine period.
The Markaz of the Tablighi Jamaat group has now been sealed by the police personnel. The police had initially filed a case against Maulana Saad Kandhalvi for violating a ban on big gatherings.
"Delhi police had filed a first information report earlier against the Tablighi chief, now section 304 has been added," an officer was saying on the culpable homicide in the penal code, which carries a maximum punishment of a 10-year prison term.
Mujeeb-ur Rehman, a spokesman for the Tablighi Jamaat group, declined to comment saying they had not confirmed reports about the new charges. The Markaz hasn't shared bank details except for some documents with the crime branch even after two notices were sent to the organisation.
The Tablighi is considered one of the world's biggest Sunni Muslim proselytising organisations with followers in more than 80 countries. Around 9,000 people participated in the Nizamuddin event. After the event, many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country.
Reportedly, a third of the nearly 3,000 coronavirus cases reported during that time were either people who attended the Tablighi gathering or those who came in contact with them.
The central and state governments conducted massive contact tracing operations to contain the spread of the deadly virus. More than 25,500 Tablighi members and their contacts have been quarantined.
As of April 16, there are 12,759 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country of which 10,824 are currently active.
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