In a major embarrassment to the Delhi Police the Saket court on Tuesday acquitted 36 Tablighi Jamaat preachers from outside India of all the charges of flouting the corona virus guidelines.
Criticising the role of the police, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg said that “none of them was present at Markaz during the relevant period and they had been picked up from different places so as to maliciously prosecute them upon directions from Ministry of Home Affairs…” The court further ruled: “It is beyond comprehension of the court, as to how IO (Inspector Satish Kumar) could have identified 952 foreign nationals out of 2,343 persons who, as per SHO, were found flouting the guidelines, without any Test Identification Parade (TIP), but on the basis of list provided by MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs).”
They were reportedly arrested from the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz at Nizamuddin in New Delhi a few days after the March 24 lockdown. They were charged with spreading COVID-19 in India. The police had then sealed the Nizamuddin mosque which was the Markaz of the Jamaat.
The action against Tablighis in Delhi was followed by similar crackdown against them across the country and many of them—both foreigners and Indians–were arrested. The Press, especially the television channels, launched a media trial against them.
Incidentally, the same media either totally blacked out the news of their acquittal or under-reported it.
As several of those who were arrested were foreigners and arrived in India much before the corona had spread or any guideline had been issued the countries to which they belonged expressed strong disapproval over the action of Indian authorities.