A member of the Tablighi Jamaat sent a legal notice to Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd, seeking compensation of Rs 1 crore for publishing a "highly defamatory and inflammatory" article on Times Now.
The article in question, published on April 1, claims the Jamaat has "a long history of ties with Pakistan-based banned terror outfits like Harkat-ul-Mujahideen". Among other claims, it cited WikiLeaks documents that claimed "some of the 9/11 al-Qaeda suspects detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay" stayed at the Jamaat's premises in Delhi "several years ago", and that the organisation is "suspected to be involved in the burning of 59 Hindu Kar Sevaks" during the 2002 Godhra riots.
The legal notice was sent by Hafeezulla Khan, a resident of Bengaluru, to Bennet Coleman and Co. Ltd, its managing director Vineet Jain, editor-in-chief Jaideep Bose, and chief editor (digital) Akrita Reyar. The notice maintained that Times Now's allegations are "a tissue of lies".
The notice said: "This is a baseless and malicious allegation as the Tablighi Jamaat has never been the subject of any investigation for any connection to terror activities.. This again is a malicious attempt to link the Tablighi Kamaat to the HuM .. the Tablighi Jamaat not only has no relation with any terror organization but unequivocally condemns all acts of terror across the world with harshest possible terms."
It asked for an "unconditional apology" and the sum of Rs 1 crore "for the horrible mental agony caused to our client". The notice added that a separate case would be filed for criminal defamation.
The Jamaat has been in the centre of a media storm after it hosted an event in Delhi between March 13 and 15, which became one of the hotspots of coronavirus in India.