By Our Correspondent
New Delhi: 2,500 foreigner Tablighi Jamaat members who were staying in India during the quarantine period, violating lockdown rules have been banned from entering India for a period of 10 years.
According to official sources, the blacklisted members include nationals from nearly 40 nations: the US, the UK, France, Australia, Russia, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Thailand,Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo,Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, the Philippines, Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Sweden, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Ukraine.
In April, the union home ministry had directed DGPs of all the states and UTs, and the Delhi Police Commissioner to take necessary legal action against all such violators, on priority, under relevant sections of the Foreigners Act, 1946, Disaster Management Act, 2005 and under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) for violating the prohibitory orders, during the lock down from 25 March onwards announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, the CBI also launched a preliminary enquiry (PE) against the organisers of Tablighi Jamaat for alleged dubious cash transactions and hiding of foreign donations from authorities.
Several people, including 250 of these foreigners, had taken part in the Tablighi Jamaat event (Markaz) at Banglewali Masjid in Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin on 13 March 2020. The venue later turned out to be the largest Covid-19 infection vector in the country. Subsequently many of them travelled to various parts of the country and tested positive for Covid-19.
They had entered India on a tourist visa and participated in the Markaz and violating visa provisions. Some of the attendees were identified and quarantined after the Centre along with the state government conducted a ‘mega operation’ to find them along with their contacts to stop the spread of coronavirus. Most of them were found hiding in mosques.
The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police had filed 12 charge sheets naming 541foreign nationals in connection with the Tablighi Jamaat case and the union home ministry had cancelled their visa. The attendees “deliberately, willfully, negligently and malignantly disobeyed the lawful directions promulgated in this regard, even after written notices were issued to Tablighi Jamaat head Maulana Muhammad Saad Kandhlawi and the Markaz management, the plice report stated.
The Maharashtra Government traced and quarantined nearly 1,350 Tablighi Jamaat activists and arrested 172 of them on 6 April, 2020. The cases registered against Tablighi activists across the country include: 426 cases (New Delhi), Tamil Nadu (574) and 172 cases (Maharashtra). This is perhaps for the first time that the government has blacklisted a large number of people in one stroke and banned their entry into India for such a long duration under the Foreigners Act.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]