India: 20 Muslims cleared of flouting virus rules

21st Oct 2020
India: 20 Muslims cleared of flouting virus rules

By Shuriah Niazi

 

NEW DELHI, India (AA): A court in western India Tuesday acquitted 20 members of a Muslim group who had been charged with violating the nationwide lockdown in April.

The members of the Tablighi Jamaat, including 10 from Kyrgyzstan and 10 from Indonesia, were booked in the state of Maharashtra for attempted murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

With the acquittal of these 20, all cases against foreign members of the Tablighi Jamaat in the Mumbai Metropolitan area have ended in acquittals or discharge, being cleared of all charges.

The police also charged them under laws against spreading diseases and preventing disasters.

Ruling in the case, Metropolitan Magistrate RR Khan said: “There was no iota of evidence with prosecution to show any contravention of order by accused persons beyond all shadow of doubt. During imposition of lockdown and their ultimate shelter in mosque or nearby will not render them responsible for such contravention.”

The court found that the accused had not violated the lockdown or curfew.

The foreign nationals acquitted by the court were directed to furnish fresh bonds of 10,000 rupees ($136) each after all previous bail bonds were cancelled.

Muslims in India were targeted in various parts of the country in April following reports that a local COVID-19 outbreak had occurred at a mid-March religious gathering in New Delhi organized by the Tablighi Jamaat.

In August, a court in the city of Aurangabad, Maharashtra quashed criminal proceedings against foreign and Indian nationals accused of flouting measures to stem the virus’ spread by taking part in congregational prayer in a mosque, saying they were made “scapegoats.”

[Map of India by US State Government/Public Domain]

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