ED Files Money Laundering Case Against Tablighi Jamaat Leader

It is soon expected to issue summons to Kandhlawi, reported to be in self quarantine, for questioning in the case.

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a money laundering case against Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad Kandhlawi, trusts linked to the Jamaat and others, officials said on Thursday.

They said an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) has been filed by the agency based on a Delhi Police FIR.

A criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has been filed against Kandhlawi, the trusts linked to him and the Jamaat and few others, a senior official said.

The Delhi Police’s crime branch had, on March 31, lodged an FIR against seven people, including the cleric, on a complaint by Station House Officer of Nizamuddin police station for holding a congregation of Tablighi Jamaat followers in alleged violation of the orders against large gatherings to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Officials said the ED has worked on the finances and transactions of the Tablighi Jamaat and its office bearers over the last few days and has obtained various documents from banks and financial intelligence gathering agencies.

It is soon expected to issue summons to Kandhlawi, reported to be in self quarantine, for questioning in the case. The agency, they said, is also looking at the opinion of medical experts about Kandhlawi’s claim of self quarantine in the wake of COVID-19 exposure.

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Kandhlawi had organised the religious gathering at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi last month against the social distancing protocol imposed by the Centre to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

The ED is also looking at the personal finances of Kandhlawi and some other office bearers and associates of the Tablighi Jamaat, they said.

Certain donations received by the Islamic organisation from foreign and domestic sources are also under the scanner of the agency, officials said.

In an audio message released sometime back, Kandhlawi had said he was exercising self-quarantine after several hundreds who visited the congregation at Nizamudddin Markaz tested positive for coronavirus.

The police FIR registered against the Tablighi Jamaat event says that the Delhi Police contacted the authorities of Nizamuddin Markaz on March 21 and reminded them of the government order which prohibited any political or religious gathering of more than 50 people.

It says that despite repeated efforts, the event organisers failed to inform the health department or any other government agency about the huge gathering inside the Markaz and deliberately disobeyed government orders.

The sub-district magistrate of Defence Colony inspected the premises several times and found that around 1,300 people, including foreign nationals, were residing there without maintaining social distance.

It was also found that there were no arrangements of hand sanitisers and face masks, the FIR said.

Also read: When Even a Pandemic Is Communalised

The Nizamudddin centre, visited by thousands, turned out to be a hotspot of coronavirus not only in the national capital, but the entire country.

More than 25,500 Tablighi members and their contacts have been quarantined in the country after the Centre and the state governments conducted a “mega operation” to identify them.

At least 9,000 people participated in the religious congregation in Nizamuddin. Later, many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country.