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Ambala court acquits 8 Tablighi followers

January 17, 2021 05:18 AM

COURTESY HT JAN 17

Ambala court acquits 8 Tablighi followers
Observed that there is no evidence to prove that they were infected with virus
Bhavey Nagpal

letterschd@hindustantimes.com

Ambala : In its nine-page judgment, an Ambala court on Tuesday acquitted all eight foreigners affiliated with the Tablighi Jamaat, who were arrested in May for allegedly flouting Covid norms amid the lockdown.

The court in its order, which was made available on Friday, said the prosecution had failed to prove violation of any condition of the valid visa(s) and said the recorded statements did not mention ‘any witness (who) saw the accused making any movement at a public place in violation of the guidelines of lockdown’

The court ruled, “The unforeseen exigencies of the Covid-19 pandemic have hit the entire world. The convicts had already remained in custody as under-trial prisoners for around two months. Therefore, keeping in view the attendant facts and circumstances of the case, the threat of Covid, as well as the larger interest of justice, each one of the convicts is sentenced to pay a fine of ₹1,000 for the commission of an offence punishable under Section 188 of the IPC.”

Judicial magistrate, first class, Vinod Kumar, observed that there was nothing on record to suggest that the accused were infected “…or that knowing or having reasons to believe of carrying of such infection, they attempted to commit any act or negligent omission to spread the said disease,” he said.

The men, eight of whom were from Nepal and one from Sri Lanka, were booked under charges of violating Section 144 (unlawful assembly), spreading infection and other sections of the National Disaster Management Act and Foreigners Act in April.

They were all later released on bail in June and were staying at the Jama Masjid in Ambala Cantonment’s Timber Market.

Their counsel, Mohammad Danish, said, “The court dismissed all the other charges except Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) due to lack of evidence. One of the accused, Muhammad Nabir Ansari, 27, who was facing some kidney issues, died after treatment at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. The medication he needed was unavailable in central jail, which worsened his condition.”

Imam of the Jama Masjid, Maulana Muhammad Asghar Qasmi, said they were stuck in Ambala due to the lockdown and had to spend nearly two months in the jail after they were booked.

“We are now waiting for some document clearance and hopefully they will be able to return homes soon,” he added.

The ordeal

The free men are now eagerly waiting to return to their homes and meet their families. 74-year-old Muhammad Bhoj Ray, the only one to test positive, says, “My family was really worried when I got infected. I did not have a mobile phone back then, so doctors helped me talk to them. They even provided me food after my prayer, as outside food was not available those days. I was in a foreign country, alone in the isolation ward, but Allah was with me. Now, I am a healthy man and eager to meet my two grandchildren soon,” he said.

The youngest of the eight, Muhammad Rifsan, 26, from Sri Lanka, who is trained in Islamic Law from a madrassa, was in India for the first time. “It was a hard year for all of us but luckily I managed to learn Hindi. My parents and siblings in my home town Batticaloa were disturbed with what happened with me. I missed a whole year in the initial stage of my career and now want the government to facilitate our return at the earliest,” he said. While Muhammad Ganni Miya Teli, 63, is happy to be free ‘with Allah’s grace’, he says he will buy toys for his grandson before leaving from Ambala.

 

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