New Delhi, April 17 (KMS): India has brought charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the chief of the country’s Tableeghi Jamaat for holding a gathering last month that authorities say led to a big jump in coronavirus infections, police said on Thursday.
The headquarters of the Tableeghi Jamaat group in a cramped corner of Delhi were sealed and thousands of followers, including some from Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, were taken into quarantine after it emerged they had attended meetings there in mid-March.
Police initially filed a case against Muhammad Saad Kandhalvi, the chief of the centre, for violating a ban on big gatherings but had now invoked the law against culpable homicide, the police spokesman said.
Delhi police had filed a first information report earlier against the Tableeghi chief, “now Section 304 has been added”, the officer said, referring to culpable homicide in the penal code, which carries a maximum punishment of a 10-year prison term.
A spokesman for the Tableeghi Jamaat group, Mujeebur Rehman, declined to comment saying they had not confirmed reports about the new charges.
India’s tally of coronavirus infections has since jumped to 12,380, including 414 deaths, as of Thursday.
Critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government have cautioned against fanning communal tension by laying the blame for the spread of the coronavirus on the Muslim group.
Officials have rejected suggestions they were unfairly targeting the Muslim community, but said they had to rebuke the group because it had behaved irresponsibly by ignoring social-distancing rules.