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After SDPI Files PIL, Tamil Nadu Govt Arranges Transport & Quarantine Facility For Tablighis Stranded In Delhi

Madras High Court. Photo Source: DH

Tamil Nadu government has devised a transportation provision for the transit of Tabligh Jamaat attendees from Tamil Nadu who are stranded in Delhi and in other states. The attendees are scheduled to depart on May 16. In addition to safe passage, the government has also arranged two colleges for quarantining the Jamaat attendees, on arrival.

This issue of regional Jamaat attendees stranded in Delhi was brought to limelight after Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) State General Secretary, Umar Farook sought directions from the Madras High Court by filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), directing the state government to bring back the stranded natives of Tamil Nadu, in view of the nationwide lockdown.

In a statement issued by the SDPI Advocates’ Wing, the petition was submitted on April 28 and was brought to the first court hearing on May 7. The bench comprised of Justices Dr Vineet Kothari and Pushpa Sathyanarayana. Jayaprakash Narayanan, Government Pleader, appeared for the state government and Additional Solicitor General, Rajagopal, appeared on behalf of the Central Government, while petitioners Senior Counsel Ajmal Khan and A. Raja Mohamed represented the case.

When Justice Sathyanarayanan questioned the petitioner about the necessity of carrying out the task of bringing back the stranded natives at the government’s expense, the latter, Adv Ajmal Khan rebutted by stating that the US Government had sponsored transit of their citizens from other countries; as did the Indian Government for Indians stranded throughout the world; but have ironically demanded migrant labourers to pay double the ticket price to travel to their states. Adv Khan asked the panel, that if the government is able to bring back stranded Indians internationally free of cost, why can’t they arrange the same for the stranded citizens within the country.

The petitioners also assured the panel, that if the state government is unable to fund the travel facility of its stranded natives-which, apparently is what a government’s job is, then the Jamaatis will pay for the journey and, the Jamaat is willing to sponsor for additional money. The petitioners have also filled the additional affidavit on the same day.

Justice Kothari directed the Respondent-State to file a Status Report on the arrangement and present the status quo in the next hearing on May 11.

But the state respondent didn’t submit the report. On being questioned about this the next day on May 12, Rajagopal, appearing for the state government, stated that until yesterday evening, the state didn’t receive any news of confirmation from the Delhi office. By evening, the state was informed from the Delhi office that arrangement of services is in due process in Delhi. The jury then directed the state to prepare a status report and present to the panel on May 15.

Besides the PIL in the high court, SDPI had also filed a petition to the Delhi CM, to make the necessary arrangements for the travel. When the state failed to submit the report on May 11, the party also started a Twitter campaign to draw attention to the plight of the stranded Tablighis.

In its official statement, the party and its cadres along with the advocates’ wing expressed its gratitude to Adv Ajmal Khan “for his appearance and strong arguments placed before the Hon’ble High Court in this case”.

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