Tamil Nadu Police Fails To Chargesheet 31 Foreign Tablighi Preachers, Madras High Court Says Government Can Help Them Get Back Home

Tamil Nadu Police Fails To Chargesheet  31 Foreign Tablighi Preachers, Madras High Court Says Government Can Help Them Get Back HomeTablighi Jamaat members (file photo)
Snapshot
  • None of the 31 preachers has tested positive for coronavirus and there was nothing on record to indicate that they had contributed to the spread of the pandemic virus, Justice Swaminathan noted.

The Madras High Court has granted bail to 31 Tablighi preachers from abroad besides asking the Union and Tamil Nadu governments to facilitate their return to their countries.

Of the 31 Tablighi preachers, who were picked up from various mosques across Tamil Nadu during the nation-wide lockdown announced from 25 March to curb the spread of novel coronavirus, 11 are from Bangladesh and the rest from Indonesia.

These Tablighi preachers, some of who also took part in the Aalami Markaz Nizamuddin congregations in Delhi during March that turned out to be a Covid-19 vector, have been in custody for nearly 70 days with no charge sheets filed against them by Tamil Nadu police.

These Tablighi preachers were detained by police from Dindigul, Ramanathapuram and Thanjavur districts in Tamil Nadu.

Times of India reported that Justice G R Swaminathan, taking up their bail plea, observed that the prison term undergone by them should be considered “as sufficient punishment”.

Justice Swaminathan said that the preachers had already “paid for their misadventures” and insisting that they should continue to be in India in “prison-like conditions till the proceedings end grossly offends the principle of proportionality and fairness”.

The judge pointed out that the preachers were ready to file individual affidavits that they had violated visa conditions and they would not enter India the next 10 years. He added that they cannot be seen as criminals “merely because they have contravened visa conditions”.

None of the 31 preachers has tested positive for coronavirus and there was nothing on record to indicate that they had contributed to the spread of the pandemic virus, Justice Swaminathan noted.

“The petitioners (preachers) had come to India propelled by a sense of religious idealism” and “it is not the case of prosecution that the preachers had indulged in proselytizing activities and their acts have not prejudiced public tranquillity”, the judged observed.

Justice Swaminathan said the proceedings against the preachers will be concluded once they file affidavits regretting violation of visa conditions and record their undertakings. Till then, he suggested that they be housed at Jamia Qasmiya Arabic College in Washermanpet in Chennai city.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread in Tamil Nadu, the Tablighi Jamaat proved to be one of the main sources. At one point of time, the Tamil Nadu government began terming it as “single source” in its daily reports on the pandemic status before dropping it off mysteriously.

The Tablighi Jamaat's congregations and returnees from the Nizamuddin meets are reported to be the primary infection source in Chennai’s Tondiarpet and Royapuram zones.

Besides, they are one of the infection sources at Chennai’s primary vegetable, fruit and flower market in Koyambedu, which has turned to be a “super spreader” of the virus.

So far, Tamil Nadu has reported 46,504 positive cases with 479 deaths.

Of these, Chennai has 33,244 cases with Royapuram reporting 5,364 cases and Tondiarpet 4,226 cases. The capital city has also accounted for 382 of the 479 deaths in the state.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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