The Maulana had earlier termed calls by the government for social distancing and a ban on religious gatherings as a "conspiracy to divide Muslims and dent their unity by keeping them away.
As efforts to trace the thousands of individuals who attended the religious congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat at Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz intensify across the country, the head of the Islamic sect has claimed in a purported audio clip that he is in Delhi and currently in self-isolation on the advice of doctors.
Tablighi Jammat chief Maulana Saad Kandhalwi, 56, has been booked by the Delhi Police under the Epidemic Disease Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code for violating government orders on religious gatherings and has been absconding. He is believed to have been last seen on March 28.
Two audio clips, purportedly of Maulana Saad, have emerged on Wednesday. While the Tablighi chief is heard insisting that coronavirus can do no harm to Muslims in the first clip, the second clip released later has him claiming that he is in self-isolation in Delhi based on the advice of doctors.
“Whatever is happening around the globe is a result of crimes by humanity. Staying at home is the only way to calm the wrath of God. It is important that we follow the advice of doctors and the guidelines issued by the administration. We must cooperate with the government, wherever our members are,” he is heard saying in the audio clip released on the Youtube channel of Markaz.
Notably, the Maulana had earlier termed calls by the government for social distancing and a ban on religious gatherings as a “conspiracy to divide Muslims and dent their unity by keeping them away. “This is not an occasion where one comes under the influence of doctors and stops offering Namaaz and meeting each other. There is a virus but this is the time for more such gatherings, not the time to avoid each other,” he allegedly told his followers earlier.
The congregation between March 1 and 15 at the Nizamuddin Markaz organised by the sect that Maulana Saad heads has been linked to over 400 positive cases of COVID-19 across India. Officials fear that as many as 9,000 people linked to the event could be at risk of being infected with coronavirus.
“Quarantine yourself, no matter where you are, it is not against Islam or Shariyat,” he said.