Report Says Tablighi Chief's Viral Audio Clip May Have Been Doctored, Police Deny Claim

The claim about the clip in which Maulana Saad makes light of social distancing was made by the Indian Express. The police say the report is "factually incorrect".

New Delhi: According to the Indian Express, a preliminary investigation by the Delhi Police Crime Branch into an audio clip purportedly featuring Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) head Maulana Saad Kandhalvi asking members of the religious group not to follow social distancing norms and the government’s prohibitory orders indicates it may have been “doctored”.

Significantly, the FIR registered against Saad and some others on a complaint by Mukesh Walia, SHO of the Hazrat Nizamuddin police station, had alleged that “an audio recording purportedly by Maulana Mohd Saad was found in circulation on WhatsApp on March 21, in which the speaker was heard asking his followers to defy the lockdown and social distancing, and to attend the religious gathering of the Markaz”.

According to a report in the Indian Express quoting “highly placed sources”, police had recovered a laptop from the Markaz member who had put out all the audio clips of the Tablighi Jamaat. “After scanning them, police found there are about 350 audio clips in three forms – raw clips of Markaz events; audio clips sent to their followers; and ones uploaded on their YouTube channel,” the source told the newspaper.

However, a team led by inspector Satish Kumar has been trying to find the specific audio clip that had gone viral but “has so far recovered no such clip from the laptop. On the other hand, the investigators found that Saad’s comments on police and religion from other events had been taken out of context and doctored”.

On Saturday afternoon, the Delhi police tweeted a denial to the claim made in the report. The police called the story “not only factually incorrect” but “based on wholly unverified sources and purely conjectural imagination”.

The Indian Express report said, “The investigation team noticed that the viral audio is a mix of several clips, which have been edited and doctored. They heard all audio clips again and found that statements from around 20 had been used.”

Kumar reportedly had informed his seniors about it and “was asked to send all clips as well as the viral audio to the FSL (forensic science laboratory), for further examination”.