New Delhi: Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi is an Advocate-on-Record practicing at the Supreme Court. He has been practicing law for 15 years and is now representing the Tablighi Jamaat, which is at the centre of a massive controversy for defying prohibitory orders and becoming human carriers as a result of the congregation at the Markaz in Nizamuddin.
Ayyubi has previously been the counsel in various high profile cases including that of Assam NRC.
Recently, on his petition, the apex court issued notices to all State/UT governments to respond to the plea seeking establishment of community kitchens across the country. In an extensive conversation with IANS he details what exactly happened at the Markaz. Excerpts:
Q: The allegation against Tablighi Jamaat is a serious one that they held this congregation despite prohibitory orders and now the Chief Maulana Saad is not coming out to join investigations?
The congregation of TJ existed much prior to the issuance of any prohibitory orders. Pursuant to the orders, steps were taken by Markaz to disband and disperse the congregation. The people got stranded in Markaz as they belonged to places outside Delhi. They cant go back to their homes due to the sudden lockdown announced by the Delhi government and subsequently by the central government. Rail services were shut down and eventually domestic flights were also stopped, thus eliminating any possibility for the participants to return.
It is wrong to say that Maulana Saad has not joined investigation. Police authorities have sought information from him in terms of Section 91 of the CrPC. He has duly submitted the requisite information to them, very much complying with such notice and with the investigation. The investigation is underway, therefore nothing much can be said at this stage.
Q: Is he running away from the law?
Markaz Nizamuddin has an impeccable record of abiding by the law, and assisting the authorities whenever needed.Maulana Saad is a responsible citizen and head of this global movement, therefore, such a question does not arise. He is in self quarantine as advised by his Doctor. The Police authorities know this and are following the medical protocol.As I have said, the notice seeking information has been duly replied to as well.
Q: Many foreign TJ members have been booked in Uttar Pradesh for flouting visa norms, what legal recourse will you take?
Earlier it was said that visas of around 900 foreigners TJ members is revoked and accordingly they will be deported back to their countries. But now it has come to light that FIRs are being registered against foreign TJ members and they are being sent to jail like in Bahraich, UP. We are trying to get in touch with the authorities so that legal aid can be provided to such foreigners.
Q: There are many suggestions that markaz chief should come out and speak on the issue to offer clarity?
People can give suggestions as they like, but a movement like TJ operates in a certain way. People outside the Muslim community aren’t familiar with Markaz Nizamuddin and they want to know about it but it should also be respected that TJ has never been associated with the media, it has never sought any publicity, and has not used media or TVchannels ever in its history and has remained apolitical.That’s how they have conducted themselves over the last century and perhaps may want to continue that way only.
Q: There are reports in public domain that many members of TJ have been involved in terror activities in various parts of the globe? What do you have to say on this?
This allegation is completely misplaced and mischievous. Markaz Nizamuddin has been around since 1926 and serves as the global headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, which is a purely apolitical socio-religious movement. Volunteers and participants from across the world come to the Markaz to learn about Islamic teachings with emphasis on building a good moral character so that as Muslims they refrain from all that’s evil and espouse all that’s good.
The effort started as a response to the moral degeneration of Muslims, and over the last century has benefited millions of Muslims, enabling them to lead a life of responsibility and respect across the globe.Therefore any connection with such inhuman activities like terror is contrary to the very purpose for which TJ exits. This is a global movement, and security agencies in India and across the world are fully aware of its existence and how it works. TJ is perhaps the largest social reform movement in the world, and is respected for the extraordinary effort they have undertaken.
Q: Do you think media has been biased towards you while reporting on the Markaz issue.
At the time when humanity is facing its biggest challenge, it is sad and unfortunate that an immature section of the media portrayed the Markaz issue in a very biased and dishonest manner. Nevertheless police authorities have now started taking action against fake news. Since this is a global movement which is respected worldwide we should not do anything which may bring bad name to our great country.
For instance, there are repeated reports of Maulana Saad allegedly being away from law, when in fact, he has replied to the notice given by the police, despite being under quarantine. However, the latter aspect has not been reported equally when compared to the former. Media reportage on any issue must take into account all facts and must in any case not give the slightest reason for sensationalize any issue. Unfortunately, certain sections of media have failed on that front.