BY SUMIT KUMAR SINGH
New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) The Tablighi Jamaat had its own travel agent within the Markaz complex who would book tickets from inside the premises, the Delhi Police sleuths found on Tuesday during investigation in a case filed against three members of the religious body.
The sleuths are also taking help of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to get the details of Tablighis who travelled across the country.
The Crime Branch unit of Delhi Police, which is probing the case registered against Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad and six others, is now looking for the names and details of tickets booked by the Tablighi Jamaat agent. This will also give clues about the Tablighis who went into hiding.
The sleuths are also taking IRCTC help after they obtained codes allotted to Tablighi Jamaat for booking of railway tickets. They are taking “details of railway tickets booked by the Jamaat in the month of March onwards”.
Apart from the travel agent within Markaz complex, the sleuths are also probing the record of another travel agent based in Nizamuddin. A senior IPS officer said that as travel agent within Markaz complex was unable to mange tickets for thousands of people at one go, they engaged another travel agent — Khan Travels — to streamline the travel plans of thousands of Tablighi members, including foreigners.
“Khan Travels, Nizamuddin and their accounts are being checked to find out whether the Jamaat has made payment for railway tickets for foreign delegates,” the senior officer told IANS.
The officer also said that Commissioner of Police S.N. Shrivastava is personally monitoring the case.
The crime branch is also looking at the payments made by individual foreigners to the travel agents and they are ascertaining the details through the bank accounts of the travel agent. Foreigners from across 41 nations joined the congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin in March.
Delhi Police had registered a case against seven people, including Tablighi Jamaat Markaz chief Saad, under stringent sections for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. They have also been booked for violation of Epidemic Act and Disaster Management Act on March 31. The case is registered under various sections of Epidemic Act and Disaster Management Act and Indian Penal Code.
Saad, the organiser of the religious event wherein thousands of people from India and 41 countries gathered amid the COIVD-19 outbreak is still to be questioned. Earlier he was in self-quarantine.
A total of around 9,000 people, including 1,306 foreign nationals, had participated at the March congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni organisation. The congregation had sparked off a nationwide search for its attendees with reports emerging from various states of new clusters of coronavirus-affected people linked to the event.
Vigilant railway authorities first provided an input on March 21 about the movement of Tablighis at the centre of now exploding controversy. The authorities got inputs on congregation of people from various COVID-19 affected-countries at Nizamuddin area of Tablighi Jamaat and it finally culminated in the state machinery and law enforcement agencies’ action to trace the coronovirus positive people across the country.
More importantly, the Indian Railways took social media to flag the issue. The ministry in its tweet on March 21 said: “Railways has found some cases of coronavirus-infected passengers in trains which makes train travel risky. Avoid train travel as you may also get infected if your co-passenger has coronavirus. Postpone all journeys and keep yourself and your loved ones safe. #NoRailTravel.”
This was just a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for Janta Curfew on March 22. A day later law enforcement agencies swung into action.
BY SUMIT KUMAR SINGH